Characterizing emotional dysfunction in borderline personality, major depression, and their co-occurrence

Katherine L. Dixon-Gordon, Nicole H. Weiss, Matthew T. Tull, David DiLillo, Terri Messman-Moore, Kim L. Gratz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Scopus citations

Abstract

This research aimed to characterize patterns of emotional reactivity and dysregulation in borderline personality, depression, and their co-occurrence. In study 1, 488 young adult women from the community were categorized into four groups based on self-reported major depressive disorder (MDD) and borderline personality disorder (BPD) symptoms (Low BPD/Low MDD; Low BPD/High MDD; High BPD/Low MDD; High BPD/High MDD). Immediate and prolonged subjective emotional reactivity to a laboratory stressor were assessed, and participants completed self-report and behavioral measures of emotion dysregulation. Study 2 extended these findings, examining emotional reactivity and dysregulation in a clinical population of 176 substance dependent patients with diagnoses of BPD and MDD and including a biological index of emotional reactivity. Results revealed greater prolonged fear reactivity in the High BPD/High MDD (vs. Low BPD/Low MDD) group in study 1, and greater prolonged anxiety and negative affect reactivity in both High BPD groups (vs. Low BPD/Low MDD and Low BPD/High MDD groups) in study 2 (but no differences in cortisol reactivity). Results also demonstrated greater subjective (but not behavioral) emotion dysregulation in the High BPD/High MDD (vs. Low BPD/Low MDD) group in study 1 and both High BPD groups (vs. both Low BPD groups) in study 2. Finally, the High BPD/High MDD group reported greater difficulties controlling impulsive behaviors compared with all other groups in study 1 and the Low BPD groups in study 2. Findings suggest that BPD pathology (but not MDD pathology alone) is characterized by greater prolonged emotional (especially anxiety/fear-related) reactivity and heightened emotion dysregulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number51556
Pages (from-to)187-203
Number of pages17
JournalComprehensive Psychiatry
Volume62
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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