Selective Serotonin Reuptake-Inhibitors for Symptom-Based Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorders in Older Adults: An International Delphi Study

J. Schulkens*, N. Bergs, T. Ingenhoven, E. Rosowsky, S. van Alphen, S. Sobczak

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objective: International guidelines on symptom-based treatment of borderline personality disorders (BPD) in older adults are lacking. The number of older adults (>= 65 years) with borderline personality disorder is rising. Effectiveness of Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) on symptoms of BPD has only been investigated in younger adults and results are ambiguous. During life, serotonergic function changes, which can influence the indication and effectiveness of SSRIs in older adults with BPD. Aim of this study is to reach consensus on the suitability of SSRIs for the treatment of older adults with BPD.Methods: A Delphi study was conducted among eighteen international experts. In three successive rounds, a total of 16 statements addressing the treatment with SSRI's in older adults with BPD were assessed. Consensus on specific statements was reached if at least two-third of these experts agreed.Results: Consensus was reached on 11 statements related to the indication and effectiveness of SSRIs in the treatment of older adults with BPD.Conclusion: The results of this study suggest a valuable role for SSRIs in the treatment of affective instability, and to a lesser extent impulsive behavior, in older adults with BPD. Sertraline or citalopram are suggested to be the first-choice medication but should be prescribed with some caution. Treatment recommendations have been suggested (presented in a flowchart), but still have to be investigated in clinical practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-62
Number of pages10
JournalClinical Psychopharmacology and Neuroscience
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2021


  • aged
  • behavior
  • borderline personality disorder
  • delphi technique
  • drug therapy
  • efficacy
  • fluoxetine
  • late-life depression
  • polypharmacy
  • prevalence
  • safety
  • serotonin uptake inhibitors
  • sertraline
  • tolerability
  • volunteers
  • Serotonin uptake inhibitors
  • Drug therapy
  • Delphi technique
  • Aged
  • Borderline personality disorder

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