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Does Borderline Personality Disorder Affect Pain Sensitivity?

Posted Oct 02 2008 6:15pm

A research study published in the January 2008 issue of the World Journal of Biological Psychiatry compared pain sensitivity in patients with different psychiatric diagnoses under baseline and stress conditions. The study used a sample of 76 female subjects: 16 patients with borderline personality disorder (BPD), 16 patients with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), 20 patients with bulimia nervosa and 24 healthy controls. Using a contact thermal probe, heat and cold pain thresholds were determined under baseline and stress conditions while mental stress was induced with a cognitive task ( Paced Auditory Serial Addition Task ). The results showed that pain thresholds in patients with BPD were significantly higher compared to healthy controls under baseline conditions. Patients with PTSD and bulimia nervosa did not show significant differences in pain thresholds compared to healthy controls. Under stress conditions, the difference between BPD patients and healthy controls became even more prominent, whereas the results in the other patient groups remained insignificant. The authors conclude that reduced pain sensitivity is a prominent feature of BPD, which may differentiate this disorder from other stress-related psychiatric conditions.

Click here for the abstract.

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