Dependent Personality Disorder

Overview

Definition

Dependent personality disorder is characterized by dependent and submissive behavior. The person often defers the majority or all decision-making to someone else. People with this type of personality disorder are not aware that their thoughts and behaviors are inappropriate.

Causes

It is not clear what causes personality disorders, but it is likely a combination of genetic factors and a person's environment.

The Central Nervous System
Brain face skull
A personality disorder is most likely a combination of chemical or electrical imbalances in the brain and a reaction to traumatic personal experiences.
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Risk Factors

Dependent personality disorder is more common in women and in early adulthood. Other factors that may increase your chances of a personality disorder:

  • Early childhood parental loss
  • Child abuse or neglect
  • Chronic physical illness during childhood

Other associated psychological problems can include:

  • Major depression
  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Social phobia
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Alcohol use disorder

SymptomsandDiagnosis

Symptoms

Dependent personality disorder may cause:

  • Irrational fear
  • Relying on others for guidance, decision-making, reassurance, and advice
  • Excessive sensitivity to criticism
  • A strong fear of rejection
  • Perception of oneself as powerless
  • Low self-confidence

Diagnosis

You will likely be referred to a psychiatrist or other mental health professional. You will be asked about your symptoms. A mental and medical health history will be taken. A diagnosis will be made after a complete psychiatric assessment that rules out other disorders.

Treatments

Treatment

Treatment includes counseling, medication, and therapy. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Options include:

Counseling

Counseling may be beneficial for people with dependent personality disorder. Counseling sessions focus on learning how to manage your anxiety and be more assertive.

Medications

Medications may be prescribed to treat other psychological conditions, such as anxiety or depression.

Other Treatments

Other treatments, such as cognitive behavioral therapy or group therapy can help you manage symptoms.

Prevention

There are no current guidelines to prevent dependent personality disorder because the cause is unknown.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.

RESOURCES

Mental Health America http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net 

National Institute of Mental Health https://www.nimh.nih.gov 

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Psychiatric Association https://www.cpa-apc.org 

Canadian Psychological Association https://cpa.ca 

References

Overview of personality disorders. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/psychiatric-disorders/personality-disorders/overview-of-personality-disorders. Updated January 2016. Accessed January 31, 2018.

Personality disorder. Mental Health America website. Available at: http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/personality-disorder. Accessed January 31, 2018.