May 26, 2006

Drug seen effective in personality disorder

NEW YORK -- The anti-psychotic drug Abilify (aripiprazole) appears to be a safe and effective treatment for patients with borderline personality disorder, often leading to improvements in health-related quality of life and interpersonal problems, a study suggests.

Personality disorder is a type of mental illness in which people have trouble functioning with others. It can be associated with depression and psychopathological symptoms. A few neuroleptic agents have been used in therapy for patients with borderline personality disorder.

In their study, Dr. Marius K. Nickel, of University Clinic, Regensburg, Germany, and colleagues randomly assigned 52 adults diagnosed with borderline personality disorder to 15 mg/day Abilify or placebo for 8 weeks. The findings are published in the American Journal of Psychiatry this month.

Compared with the placebo group, the Abilify group had significantly greater improvements in several symptoms including depression, anxiety and anger, Nickel and colleagues report.

Self-injury, another characteristic symptom, occurred in both groups over the course of treatment, but only two episodes occurred in the Abilify group compared with seven in the placebo group.

The most common side effects reported with Abilify were headache, insomnia, nausea, numbness, constipation and anxiety. No serious side effects or suicide attempts were observed, and none of the patients had significant changes in weight.

The researchers recommend that larger studies be conducted to see if this findings can be replicated and to establish how long the effects of drug treatment last.

SOURCE: American Journal of Psychiatry, May 2006.