Exploring the Utility of Neurostimulation Therapies in the Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder: A Systematic Literature Review

SOURCE: Journal of ECT. 39(3):151-157, 2023 09 01

AUTHORS: Zou M; Broadbear JH; Rao S

ABSTRACT: The use of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) in the treatment of people diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD) highlights the need for systematic review of the evidence supporting this practice. A comprehensive literature search identified seven original clinical research studies investigating the use of brain stimulation therapies in people diagnosed with BPD. The lack of consistent study design, diagnostic methodology, treatment parameters, and outcome measures precluded analysis of aggregated study results. There were no ECT studies evaluating BPD symptom outcomes; however, studies of ECT in patients with comorbid BPD and depression suggested that depressive symptoms were less responsive to ECT compared with depression-only patients. The few studies available suggest that TMS may lead to clinically and statistically significant improvements in BPD symptoms and depressive symptoms. Similar overall improvements were reported despite the use of heterogeneous TMS treatment protocols, highlighting the importance of including a sham condition to investigate the contribution of the placebo effect to overall improvement. There is still no clear evidence supporting the use of ECT for treating people with BPD (with or without depression); therefore, the use of ECT in this population should be approached with caution. Although TMS shows early promise, the low numbers of participants in the few available studies suggest the urgent need for larger randomized controlled trials to provide an evidence base for this increasingly popular treatment.

FULL ARTICLE LINK: https://journals.lww.com/ectjournal/abstract/2023/09000/exploring_the_utility_of_neurostimulation.7.aspx