Diagnosing borderline personality disorder in teens is controversial. Some have argued that many teens will "grow out of" their symptoms, so it is best to avoid giving a diagnosis of BPD (particularly because of the unfortunate stigma associated with the disorder). But, a recent research review lends support to the practice of diagnosing BPD in teens. Dr. Alec Miller and colleagues reviewed research studies of BPD in adolescents published from 1980 to the present. They found that there appears to be a significant subgroup of teens who have stable BPD from their teenage years into adulthood. For these teens, a diagnosis of BPD may be both warranted and helpful.
The researchers did find however, that another subgroup of adolescents appear move in and out of meeting diagnostic criteria BPD. These adolescents tend to have less severe symptoms, and it is possible that for these teens, a diagnosis of BPD may not be helpful.
The researchers suggest that while clinicians need to be careful and thorough in the assessment process, the diagnosis of BPD is warranted in some teens, particularly those with more severe symptoms.
Miller AL, Muehlenkamp JJ, Jacobson CM. "Fact or Fiction: Diagnosing Borderline Personality Disorder in Adolescents." Clinical Psychology Review. 28:969-981, 2008.