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Effects of Mindfulness Training on Borderline Personality Disorder: Impulsivity Versus Emotional Dysregulation

Abstract

Emotion dysregulation (ED) and impulsivity are the two core characteristics of borderline personality disorder (BPD). Although the mindfulness module of dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) has proven effective to treat general BPD symptomatology, no studies have yet been conducted to determine whether mindfulness specifically targets impulsivity and/or ED in patients with BPD. Therefore, the aim of the current study was to examine the impact of mindfulness training on those two characteristics. A clinical sample (n = 70) of individuals with BPD were randomized to one of two interventions: DBT mindfulness skills training (DBT-M) or DBT interpersonal effectiveness skills training (DBT-IE). Participants were assessed prior to treatment and at the end of the 10-week training program. Assessment included measures of impulsivity, emotion dysregulation, BPD severity, and mindfulness facets. Our findings showed that impulsivity decreased in the DBT-M group but not in the DBT-IE group. BPD psychopathology and some aspects of ED (e.g., emotional clarity and emotional acceptance) improved in both groups. These results show that the mindfulness module of DBT improves both emotion regulation and impulsivity. Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT03363230

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Acknowledgments

We would like to thank all participants of the study. We also thank Bradley Londres for editing and improving the text of this manuscript.

Funding

This study was supported by the Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red de Salud Mental (CIBERSAM) and by a grant from Instituto de Salud Carlos III (PI13/00134) and co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

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CCF executed the study, assisted with data analyses, and wrote the initial version of the manuscript. ME assisted with data analyses and edited the final manuscript. JS designed the study and collaborated with data analysis and writing the manuscript. EDC collaborated with the writing of the manuscript and data analyses. EPC and RS collaborated with the writing of the manuscript. JCP collaborated with the design, writing of the study, and data analyses.

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Correspondence to Joaquim Soler.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. The study was approved by the Clinical Research Ethics Committee of the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau (Barcelona, Spain).

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Carmona i Farrés, C., Elices, M., Soler, J. et al. Effects of Mindfulness Training on Borderline Personality Disorder: Impulsivity Versus Emotional Dysregulation. Mindfulness 10, 1243–1254 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-018-1071-4

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Keywords

  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Mindfulness
  • Emotional dysregulation
  • Impulsivity