Last updated on September 2013

Comparing Treatments for Self-Injury and Suicidal Behavior in People With Borderline Personality Disorder


Brief description of study

This study will compare the effectiveness of two treatments, dialectical behavior therapy versus fluoxetine with clinical management, for reducing the risk of self-injury and suicidal behavior in people with borderline personality disorder.

Detailed Study Description

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a chronic disorder in emotional regulation and is characterized by instability in self-image, mood, relationships, and behavior. People suffering from BPD have a high rate of self-injury and suicide attempts. This study will compare the effectiveness of two treatments for preventing self-injury and suicide in people with BPD: dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) and fluoxetine with clinical management. DBT is a behavioral therapy that teaches new coping skills to replace old strategies, including self-injury and attempted suicide. Fluoxetine is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) medication that has been used to treat BPD. Clinical management of fluoxetine, which is involved in administering the medication under normal conditions, refers to regular visits with a psychiatrist who will monitor medication effectiveness and side effects. Clinical management in this study may include adjusting the dosage of fluoxetine or prescribing a change in medication to citalopram, another SSRI. Participation in this study will last 12 months, including all follow-up assessments. During the first study visit, participants will undergo baseline testing and be randomly assigned to receive either DBT or fluoxetine with clinical management. After a washout period, in which participants will transition off any medications they are currently taking, participants will receive 6 months of their assigned treatment. Participants receiving DBT will attend one 60-minute individual therapy session and one 90-minute group session every week. Participants assigned to the fluoxetine with clinical management condition will begin receiving 20 mg of fluoxetine daily and have their dose increased over the course of 4 weeks, based on tolerance, up to 40 mg. Participants assigned to fluoxetine may also be switched to citalopram, if the study psychiatrist thinks it will be more effective. Participants assigned to either fluoxetine or citalopram will undergo monthly blood tests to monitor the level of medication in their bodies. Every 2 weeks, participants will undergo assessments of treatment effectiveness and side effects. After 2, 4, 6, 9, and 12 months, participants will undergo various neuropsychological tests and clinical interviews and self-report questionnaires about mood and life experiences. At study entry and at Weeks 12 and 24, participants will use a handheld computer to complete a week-long assessment of emotions. Fully healthy female participants will be asked to complete a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scan, which will assess their ability to regulate emotions at the neural level. The fMRI scan and a stress test (for both men and women) will be performed at baseline and after 6 months.

Clinical Study Identifier: NCT00834834

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