Dependent Personality Disorder

What Is Dependent Personality Disorder?

Dependent personality disorder (DPD) is a disorder in which a person presents with a strong fear of abandonment. A person with DPD will have a chronic fear of rejection. He or she is often described as 'needy' or 'clingy'. This is because they constantly seek attention and validation from loved ones. People with DPD have poor self-esteem and a negative self-image. They often doubt themselves and do not hold themselves in high regard. They may feel they are not worth the affections of others and feel any warm sentiments will not last. The constant suspicion of abandonment causes anxiety in a person with DPD.

Symptoms of Dependent Personality Disorder

People with DPD have several negative behavior patterns. A patient with DPD will need approval from others. He or she will crave it so desperately that he or she will engage in problematic behavior, like:

  • Submissive behavior and avoidance of conflict or disagreeing with another person
  • Intense fear of rejection
  • Dependence on the care of others
  • Helpless behavior used to get attention and support from others
  • Fear and discomfort with being alone
  • Poor ability to accept criticism
  • Low self-esteem
  • Refusal to take responsibility for oneself
  • Extreme fear of abandonment
  • Low expectations of himself or herself
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Lack of belief in oneself to be self-sufficient

Dependent Personality Disorder Causes and Risk Factors

It is unclear what causes DPD. Many cases have developed with no outstanding issues, illnesses, or dysfunction. At this point little is known about the causes and risk factors of DPD. However, there seems to be a link between DPD in adults who had separation anxiety as children. Separation anxiety is a condition in which a child or adolescent experiences distress when left alone.

Even though children typically grow out of separation anxiety, many people with DPD have a history of separation anxiety.

Treatment for Dependent Personality Disorder

It is difficult to cope with DPD. People with DPD have a distorted view of themselves and the world. This causes the symptoms outlined above. With such a pessimistic view of core forces of the self and the world, DPD can be difficult to treat. The person who is suffering from DPD must be aware of the issue and their responsibility in the issue. If the patient is unable or unwilling to accept these factors they will not likely improve. The following forms of treatment has been proven effective for DPD:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an effective form of therapeutic intervention. CBT teaches a person how their negative thoughts and attitudes affect their emotions and behavior. CBT can be effective in helping a patient learn how to relate to others. This can reduce the fear of rejection and abandonment.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is another effective form of therapy for patients with DPD. DBT helps the patient understand how their dependent behavior negatively affects them. It also teaches skills for relaxation and self-empowerment. DBT uses different techniques like simulations, group counseling and mindfulness training.

Psychiatric Intervention. Sometimes a patient with DPD will be prescribed psychiatric medication. Psychiatric medications like anti-anxiety medication and antidepressants help reduce reactive symptoms. It is important that the patient continue with counseling services in conjunction with psychiatric medications. This will ensure that the patient learns how to cope with his or her symptoms and not be reliant on the medication.

Latest Articles About Dependent Personality Disorder

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GinaMarie Guarino, LMHC

Dependent personality disorder (DPD) is a disorder in which a person has an extreme fear of abandonment. This fear causes a person to go to great lengths to prevent abandonment or rejection. People with DPD face many issues with regard to the way they see themselves and the people around them. A person with DPD […]

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Dependent personality disorder (DPD) is a disorder that causes a person to be dependent on others. A person with DPD often has an intense fear of abandonment. DPD causes a person to be ‘clingy’ or ‘needy’, and struggle with feeling secure in a relationship. Considering the insecurities that come with DPD relationships are often strained. […]