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January 5, 2012

What is Dependent Personality Disorder?

For people with Dependent Personality Disorder, relying on others for emotional and physical support is MUCH easier than relying on themselves. Dependent personality disorder, or DPD, is a psychiatric condition that affects about one million Americans. The difference between a dependent personality and dependent personality disorder, or DPD, is somewhat subjective, which makes diagnosis sensitive to cultural influences such as gender role expectations. DPD is one of the most frequently diagnosed personality disorders. It appears to occur equally in men and women, and usually appears in early to middle adulthood. Dependent personality disorder is marked by helplessness, submissiveness, a need to be taken care of and for constant reassurance, and an inability to make decisions. People with DPD find it difficult to make even simple decisions without the reassurance and advice of others. They often need other people to assume responsibility for major areas of their lives and they tend to have difficulty initiating projects, or doing things on their own. Because they are so reliant on others, individuals with DPD feel uncomfortable or even helpless when on their own. Similarly, dependent personality disorder comes with an intense preoccupation with, and fear of, abandonment. In an effort to avoid these feelings, people with DPD are extremely passive and agreeable with others. They avoid disagreements and may even tolerate mistreatment and abuse. Should their relationships end, people with DPD tend to move immediately into new ones, to avoid being alone for any real period. There is no clear reason that a person will develop these dependent personality disorder symptoms. Although the exact cause of dependent personality disorder is not known, it most likely involves both biological and developmental factors. Some researchers believe an authoritarian or overprotective parenting style can lead to the development of dependent personality traits in people who are susceptible to the disorder. Regardless of its origin, the symptoms of DPD can be treated with psychotherapy, which is a form of counseling. Psychotherapy focuses on helping a person learn to be more active, assertive, and independent. Generally, short-term therapy is preferred, as long-term counseling may lead to patient dependence on the therapist. Because dependent personality disorder may occur in conjunction with anxiety or depressive disorders prescription medications may be used to treat these symptoms, in turn leading to a better state of patient well being. Treatment for dependent personality disorder can be very successful, so talk to a mental health professional if you or a loved one is affected by the condition.

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Last Updated:
December 20, 2012