Dependent Personality Disorder

Dependent personality disorder causes a person to be psychologically dependent on someone else, whether it's a family member, boss or significant other. This may materialize in many forms, including the inability to make independent decisions, anxiety regarding loss, or excessive discomfort in handling tasks or enjoying activities while alone. Criteria for determining the presence of this disorder is subjective and severity of symptoms varies depending upon individual and circumstance.


Symptoms of Dependent Personality Disorder


Symptoms of dependent personality disorder may resemble other mental illnesses, such as passive-aggressive disorder, or may be viewed merely as a personality trait, such as a tendency to be submissive or agreeable. In its clinical form, this illness can lead to deeper psychological issues, so recognizing symptoms can be important. Following is a list of possible symptoms that may indicate dependent personality disorder:

  • Inability to make decisions without guidance from another
  • Avoiding personal responsibility by refusing to accept jobs or tasks which require independence
  • Difficulty with being alone
  • Avoiding disagreements by following along
  • Being hypersensitive to criticism
  • Lack of self-confidence
  • Placing the needs of others above their own
  • Excessive fear of abandonment
  • Acting childish or the tendency to be naïve


Causes of Dependent Personality Disorder


There are no known causes for dependent personality disorder. Research studies provide theories, however, and most of them point to early childhood events that may have spawned the development of symptoms. For example, children who experienced an overly authoritarian parenting style may not have learned to make independent decisions. Likewise, children who are neglected or lack guidance may rely on others for decision-making as well. A lengthy relationship that includes emotional or physical abuse in adulthood can also lead to symptoms.


Diagnosis of Dependent Personality Disorder


Diagnosing dependent personality disorder can be tricky, as many people may believe symptoms are just a part of their personality. Additionally, a person with this disorder may be in a relationship with an abusive or controlling partner, thereby lacking access to tools or advice that may help. When seeking treatment, normally a trained medical physician would first rule out any physical conditions that may be causing symptoms. If all physical ailments are ruled out, an evaluation can be conducted by a psychologist or psychiatrist. This would include a study of family medical history, the patient's personal history, observation of behavior and a list of questions that can help lead to the diagnosis of dependent personality disorder.


Treating Dependent Personality Disorder


Treatment options for dependent personality disorder will vary by individual and situation. The most effective treatments may come from either the conventional or alternative health spectrum, and often treatments can be combined for the most benefit. Following is a brief list of possible treatments for relieving symptoms of dependent personality disorder:

  • Conventional medication – because this disorder encourages the tendency to become dependent, prescription of conventional medications should be carefully monitored. If medication is prescribed, it's generally aimed at alleviating one or more secondary symptoms, such as depression or anxiety.
  • Therapy – this is, by far, the most successful conventional treatment method. There are several different types of therapy that can be beneficial to anyone experiencing symptoms of this disorder. Cognitive behavioral therapy can bring about awareness of triggering events, so that the patient can learn to recognize symptomatic behavior and make positive changes. Family therapy helps to get to the potential root cause of symptoms and possibly reverse behavior patterns through awareness. Group therapy can encourage victims of abuse and violence to take a stand for themselves and learn to make more healthy choices.
  • Alternative remedies – there are many different types of alternative treatments, including meditation, yoga, color therapy and herbal essences. This type of treatment is aimed at healing mind, body and soul, encouraging emotional healing and wellness.