Dependent Personality Disorder


Dependent Personality Disorder (DPD) is a mental health condition characterized by excessive reliance on others to meet one’s emotional and physical needs. Individuals with DPD typically fear being alone and struggle with making decisions or taking initiative without reassurance or support from others. They often have low self-esteem, lack confidence in their abilities, and have difficulty asserting themselves.


Here are some common symptoms of Dependent Personality Disorder (DPD):

1. Excessive need for reassurance:

People with DPD often require excessive reassurance and approval from others in order to make decisions or feel secure. They may constantly seek advice and guidance from others before taking action.

2. Difficulty making decisions:

Individuals with DPD struggle with making even minor decisions independently, such as what to wear or what to eat. They may rely heavily on others to make decisions for them, fearing that their own choices will be wrong or inadequate.

3. Submissive and clingy behavior:

Those with DPD tend to adopt a submissive and passive attitude in their relationships. They may go to great lengths to please others, avoid conflict, and maintain the support and care they believe they need. They may also fear being abandoned or rejected by those they depend on.

4. Fear of abandonment:

People with DPD often have an intense fear of being left alone or abandoned. Due to this fear, they may cling to relationships, even if they are unhealthy or abusive. The fear of being unable to care for themselves or make decisions independently drives their dependency on others.

5. Difficulty initiating or maintaining projects:

Individuals with DPD may struggle to start or complete tasks or projects without someone else’s presence or guidance. They may lack the motivation and self-confidence to take on responsibilities on their own.

6. Lack of self-confidence:

Those with DPD often have low self-esteem and lack confidence in their abilities. They may underestimate their own skills and constantly seek validation and approval from others to feel capable.

7. Avoidance of personal responsibilities:

People with DPD may avoid or neglect their own personal responsibilities, such as paying bills or managing their own finances. They may rely on others to take care of these tasks for them.

8. Difficulty expressing disagreement:

Individuals with DPD may have trouble expressing their own opinions, needs, or desires. They may fear disapproval or rejection if they disagree with others, leading them to comply with others’ wishes even when it goes against their own interests.

Note that having some of these symptoms does not necessarily mean someone has Dependent Personality Disorder.


The exact causes of Dependent Personality Disorder (DPD) are not fully understood, but it is believed to be influenced by a combination of genetic, environmental, and psychological factors. Here are some factors that may contribute to the development of DPD:

1. Genetic factors:

Certain genetic predispositions or inherited traits may make some individuals more susceptible to developing DPD. However, specific genes or genetic markers associated with the disorder have not been identified.

2. Childhood experiences:

Early life experiences play a crucial role in the development of personality and can contribute to the development of DPD. Factors such as overprotective parenting, neglect, or inconsistent care can contribute to an individual’s excessive reliance on others.

3. Attachment styles:

Attachment theory suggests that the quality of early attachments between a child and their primary caregivers can influence their ability to develop autonomy and independence. Insecure attachment styles, such as anxious or ambivalent attachment, may increase the risk of developing DPD.

4. Learned behavior:

Individuals with DPD may have learned from early experiences that being dependent on others is the most effective way to receive love, attention, and support. They may have received positive reinforcement for relying on others and may have not developed the necessary skills to be self-reliant.

5. Personality traits:

Certain personality traits, such as low self-esteem, high levels of anxiety, and a tendency to be overly compliant, can make individuals more vulnerable to developing DPD.

6. Cultural and societal factors:

Cultural and societal influences can also play a role in the development of DPD. Societies that emphasize interdependence, conformity, and the importance of strong familial or social ties may contribute to the development of dependent traits.

Remember that these factors are not definitive causes, but rather potential influences on the development of DPD. The interplay between genetic predisposition, environmental factors, and individual experiences likely contributes to the development of the disorder.


Dependent Personality Disorder (DPD) is typically diagnosed by a qualified mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist or a psychologist. The diagnostic process involves a comprehensive assessment that includes:

1. Clinical interview:

The mental health professional will conduct a thorough interview to gather information about the individual’s symptoms, personal history, and current functioning. They may ask about the individual’s relationships, decision-making abilities, fears of abandonment, and patterns of dependency.

2. Diagnostic criteria:

The mental health professional will evaluate the individual’s symptoms and compare them to the criteria outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). The DSM-5 is a widely used manual that provides guidelines for diagnosing mental health conditions. It includes specific criteria for DPD, and the individual’s symptoms must meet these criteria for a diagnosis to be made.

3. Assessment tools:

The mental health professional may use standardized psychological assessment tools to gather additional information about the individual’s symptoms and functioning. These tools can help provide a more objective measure of DPD symptoms and assess the severity of the disorder.

4. Differential diagnosis:

The mental health professional will rule out other possible causes for the individual’s symptoms. They will consider other personality disorders, such as borderline personality disorder or avoidant personality disorder, as well as other mental health conditions that may have overlapping features.

Self-diagnosis is not recommended, as it may lead to misunderstandings or incorrect assessments.


The treatment for Dependent Personality Disorder (DPD) typically involves psychotherapy as the primary approach. Here are some common therapeutic approaches that may be used in the treatment of DPD:

1. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT):

CBT aims to identify and challenge negative thought patterns and beliefs that contribute to dependent behaviors. The therapist helps the individual develop healthier thinking patterns, improve self-esteem, and learn skills for making independent decisions.

2. Psychodynamic Therapy:

Psychodynamic therapy focuses on exploring the underlying causes and unconscious conflicts that contribute to the development of DPD. It helps individuals gain insight into their dependency patterns and develop healthier ways of relating to themselves and others.

3. Group Therapy:

Group therapy can be beneficial for individuals with DPD as it provides opportunities to interact with others and practice assertiveness, interpersonal skills, and independence in a supportive environment.

4. Social Skills Training:

Social skills training helps individuals develop assertiveness, communication, and problem-solving skills. It aims to enhance their ability to navigate relationships and make independent decisions.

5. Self-esteem Building:

Therapy may focus on improving self-esteem and building self-confidence. This can involve exploring personal strengths, setting goals, and challenging negative self-beliefs.

6. Medication:

In some cases, medication may be prescribed to manage associated symptoms such as anxiety or depression. Antidepressant or anti-anxiety medications may be considered as part of the treatment plan, if necessary.

It’s important to note that treatment for DPD is highly individualized, and the specific approach may vary depending on the individual’s needs and preferences. The duration of treatment can also vary, ranging from several months to longer-term therapy.

In addition to therapy, support from family and friends, as well as the development of a strong support network, can be helpful for individuals with DPD. A collaborative and holistic approach that addresses both the psychological and social aspects of the disorder is often the most effective in managing and reducing the symptoms of DPD.

If you want to know more about it check our article personality disorders.

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