11 Minutes

Edited & medically reviewed by THE BALANCE Team
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Dependent personality disorder (DPD) is a subtype of anxious personality disorder. Individuals with DPD frequently feel vulnerable, submissive, or incapable of self-care. They may struggle to make simple decisions. Someone with a dependent personality, on the other hand, can learn self-reliance and self-confidence with assistance.

Personality is defined by mental health professionals as a person’s way of feeling, behaving, and thinking. A personality disorder influences how people think and act, causing them to behave in unusual ways over time.

One of ten types of personality disorders is DPD. Narcissistic personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder, and paranoid personality disorder are some of the others. DPD usually begins in childhood or by the time a person reaches the age of 29.

Individuals with DPD have a strong desire to be looked after by others. A person with DPD frequently relies on family and friends to meet their physical and emotional needs. Others may label them as clingy or needy.

Individuals with DPD may feel they are incapable of self-care. They may struggle to make routine choices, like what to wear, without the support of others.

According to statistics, about 10 percent of adults suffer from a personality disorder. Only about 1 percent of adults fit the criteria for DPD. DPD affects more women than men.

Dependent personality disorder diagnosis requires proper workup and investigative tests. A physical exam and various dependent personality disorder tests are performed by your healthcare professional to see if another condition is causing your symptoms. DPD is diagnosed by a mental health professional.

Your previous mental health history will be discussed with a mental health specialist. Questions about how you’re feeling, any other mental health issues, and any substance abuse issues may be asked. Your responses are compared to factors in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

A clinician will check for five of the DSM-5 diagnostic criteria to make a DPD diagnosis. These elements include:

  • Fear of being ignored, neglected, or abandoned is unrealistic and all-consuming.
  • When you’re alone, you may feel helpless or anxious.
  • Failure to manage life’s duties on one’s own without seeking assistance.
  • Fear of losing support or acceptance when expressing a viewpoint.
  • Strong desire to gain favor from people, even if it means doing actions that are unpleasant.
  • Making daily decisions without advice or support from others is difficult.
  • Due to a major lacking of self-confidence or decision-making abilities, it’s difficult to start or finish undertakings.
  • When an intimate relationship ends, there is a strong need to find a new relationship that can provide approval and support.

Individuals with Dependent personality disorder become emotionally overly reliant on others and go to a significant extent to please them. Patients with DPD have a fear of abandonment and exhibit needy, passive, and clingy behavior. The following are some of the typical dependent personality traits:

  • Difficulty in making decisions, even simple ones as what outfit they should wear, without the help and support of others.
  • Becoming passive and powerless to avoid adult responsibilities; relying on a partner or acquaintance to make decisions such as where to live and work.
  • When a relationship ends, a person with DPD has intense feelings of insecurity as well as a sense of despair or hopelessness; when one relationship ends, an individual with DPD often rushes directly into another.
  • Intolerance of criticism
  • Pessimism and an absence of self-confidence, as well as the feeling that they are incapable of caring for themselves
  • Fear of losing approval or support if one disagrees with others.
  • Lack of self-confidence prevents you from working on a task or a particular activity.
  • Being alone is challenging.
  • Willingness to put up with other people’s abuse and mistreatment
  • Putting their caretakers’ needs ahead of their own
  • A proclivity to be innocent with frequent daydreaming

Therapy For Dependent Personality Disorder

Treatment for individuals with a dependent personality disorder is difficult because they may believe others are victimizing them and are unable to acknowledge their own flaws. They may believe they never receive enough help or assurance. Therapy is the most effective and safest treatment for people with DPD. Instead of continuing to create dependent relations, mental health practitioners can help these persons see themselves as worthy of doing tasks on their own through steps and developed habits in treatment.


For those with DPD, psychotherapy is the most common treatment option. The eventual aim of therapy is to help the person become more self-sufficient. They will be able to build healthy connections as a result of their independence.

Assertiveness training is one of the psychotherapy methods that can assist a person build self-confidence and new attitudes and perceptions about themselves. Long-term psychotherapy depends on early developmental events that may have affected the construction of defense mechanisms, a deficiency of coping skills, and poor interpersonal patterns in intimate relationships.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), a type of talk therapy that concentrates on how an individual thinks and behaves, is a widely utilized treatment for DPD. The purpose of CBT is to identify and replace harmful ideas and behavior patterns with positive, beneficial alternatives. People who participate in CBT may gain strategies to help them better control their emotions and thoughts, as well as increase their coping abilities. CBT frequently concludes each meeting with home assignments for the client to complete, like implementing newly learned skills in everyday situations.

Unlike psychotherapy, Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on current life problems rather than causes that may have contributed to those problems. The goal is to move ahead, away from the root of the abandonment problem, and gain coping strategies for dealing with current stressors and events.

The following are examples of CBT skills and strategies:

  • Identifying stressful events in one’s life at present
  • Rather than evading worries, recognize them and confront them.
  • Relaxation techniques are used to help the mind and body to relax.
  • Recognizing and reorganizing erroneous thinking

Medication Treatment For Dependent Personality Disorder

There is no drug that can treat DPD, but several medications can help with the core symptoms. Individuals with dependent personality disorder are frequently administered sedatives, antidepressants, and tranquilizers.

The priority is to reduce distress. If the person is unable to remove herself from a stressful circumstance or relationship, medication therapy may be required to alleviate the tension before any further treatment can begin. Stress reduction can make managing the root problem considerably easier.


Antidepressants may be used by those who have an existing depression condition which makes their DPD symptoms worse. Antidepressants such as Paxil, Zoloft, and Celexa have been shown to improve a person’s brain process and lead to more optimistic thinking. While these drugs can help to reduce negative thinking, they don’t usually completely remove it.


If the person is suffering anxiety as a result of their DPD, their therapist may recommend a sedative to help them relax. Sedatives, like barbiturates and benzodiazepines, depress the brain and the nervous system, calming a hyperactive or anxious mind. Sedatives are a type of drug that is used to treat sleep difficulties as well as a variety of anxiety disorders.


These drugs help calm the nervous system while also reducing the psychological and physical impacts of anxiety and fear. Valium, Xanax, and Librium are among well-known tranquilizers.

Treating Co-Occurring Disorders and Dependent Personality Disorder

When a person has a personality disorder, co-occurring disorders are fairly prevalent. Other mental disorders or substance abuse problems could be co-occurring problems.

Anxiety and depression disorders are two mental conditions that can co-occur with DPD. Co-occurring personality disorders are also possible. An avoidant and dependent personality disorder is a typical combination of personality disorders. Social reticence and high sensitivity to criticism are symptoms of avoidant personality disorder. In social contexts, it can lead to a great fear of being rejected and low self-esteem.

Life can be challenging and insecure for somebody with DPD. Being unable to rely on oneself, for example, causes a great deal of anxiety and tension. When therapy and medication aren’t an option for some people, self-help for dependent personality disorder could be just what they need. We’ll go over self-help tips, methods, and exercises step by step for managing dependent personality disorder.

This self-help section is for individuals who are experiencing DPD symptoms or who have been identified with moderate DPD. If you have serious DPD, we strongly advise that you get counseling from a mental health expert.

Think about your childhood.

How and why did I get DPD? Why do I require so much reinforcement and have such low self-esteem? What impact did my early childhood experiences have on my adult behavior?

Because the right answers can disclose some of your deepest anxieties, they can help you learn a lot more about DPD. The underlying causes of your DPD-behavior are these worries (– for example, fear of rejection; fear of losing someone’s support). There will be no reason to act the way you do if you didn’t have these worries.

Self-help Tip. Talk about how you developed your self-esteem as a child and early adolescent years, how your family raised you, and the times you were truly abandoned/rejected. Analyze each issue and try to see things from many angles.

You will gain new perspectives this way, and you might even discover that certain choices had nothing to do with you. For instance, just because your parents are overly protective does not imply you can’t accomplish anything on your own. It actually indicates that your family was too cautious about your safety to let you play and explore, and thus it says so much more about your parents than it does about you.

Discuss your childhood with your parents to see how they view their actions and whether they could have acted differently. This can sometimes give you a lot more insight into their intentions for raising you the way they did, as well as more solutions than you could give yourself.

Create a plan of action.

Now that you realize what your greatest fears are, it’s time to face them. The greatest method to overcome a phobia is to confront it in a calm and secure situation. This teaches you that your stress and anxiety will fade away in about 10 mins and that (most probably) nothing terrible has happened to you. However, first things first.

You should work on becoming more self-sufficient and requiring less reinforcement from others. And to do so, you’ll need to devise a short-term action plan. An action plan establishes defined objectives and outlines how to attain them.

Self-help Tip:

  • Make a list of the things you’re afraid of doing or that require a lot of certainties before you can accomplish them.
  • Sort your worries into categories: fears at home, at work, with friends, and during activities.
  • Write down how you’ll deal with each fear by having a target for each one: what would you like to accomplish?
  • Write down a few activities to practice with for each aim. You’ll notice that practice makes perfect!
  • Plan your workouts so that you feel as little strain or stress as possible. For example, arrive at work early, before everybody else, to practice some jobs.

Practice and assess your improvement.

It’s time to start training immediately. This implies you should choose 1 or 2 exercises to practice each day. Remember, you’re practicing, so make mistakes. All you have to do now is track your progress. Have you made any progress? If that’s the case, congratulations on a job well done! If you feel you haven’t made any progress, analyze your situation to identify where you can improve.

It’s likely that your feelings are so strong that you believe you didn’t execute the exercise properly, irrespective of how it went. Emotions have a way of interfering with our judgment. In this scenario, make a note of when and how you advance with an activity.

Expressing opinions and emotions

People with DPD may find it challenging to express their feelings and thoughts. The anxiety of being rejected, abandoned, or losing support can be so great that being silent and agreeing with the other is simpler. The ability to express feelings and opinions is a desire for the majority of people with DPD. The greatest approach to do this is to speak with someone you have a lot of faith in.

This could be your mom or your best friend, depending on your upbringing. You establish a safe atmosphere to practice in by discussing your circumstance and the notion that you need to practice sticking up for yourself and articulating your emotions. Your parent/friend knows the goal and can provide helpful comments. Every time you achieve, it encourages good habits.

If you get the impression you can’t trust someone enough to practice with, a mental health expert might be an excellent place to start.

There are a number of residential treatment centers that specialize in the treatment of bipolar disorders, particularly luxury treatment facilities. If you want to protect your privacy while getting therapy or if you need to be in a pleasant environment, this type of treatment center may be the ideal option for you. The amenities of a premium luxury treatment center vary, but they typically include workout programs, private rooms, spa therapy, and delectable meals.

Dependent personality disorder sufferers may find that high-end residential inpatient Dependent personality disorder rehabilitation programs are beneficial. A residential institution differs from other treatment options in that you will be living in a 5-star resort-like facility while getting therapy. Although most people are afraid of being away from their homes, there are some advantages to being in a residential treatment program.

Residential Dependent personality disorder treatment programs have a number of advantages. One of the major benefits of this type of facility is that you will almost certainly have access to medical supervision 24 hours a day, seven days a week while receiving treatment. Medical attention is necessary because of the risk of mental health damage that comes with Dependent personality disorder, especially if you’re having a depressed episode. Medical professionals will also be on hand to assist you in managing your daily schedule, which includes your sleeping patterns.



The Balance RehabClinic is a leading provider of luxury addiction and mental health treatment for affluent individuals and their families, offering a blend of innovative science and holistic methods with unparalleled individualised care.


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