Dependent Personality Disorder – Is our generation really facing it?

Dependent Personality Disorder

As people say: ”Never be dependent on others too much. Because it is confirmed that someday you will have to walk all alone”. But sometimes it is like feeling threatened by self-reliance and sheltered in submission. Is this dependent personality disorder?

It is a fact that humans are social creatures. We need each other. Even the mental health of a person can also be partially defined by their supple interdependence and the substantial emotional attachment with loved ones and people around them. But…

Is being dependent on others is an ailment???

What the ”Dependent Personality Disorder” (DPD) is all about? Let’s explore:

Dependent Personality Disorder (DPD):

Dependent personality disorder (DPD) is an abnormal mental condition. In DPD a person depends too much on others. This dependence could be to fulfill their emotional or even physical needs. The tendency of over-reliance on others shows a lack of self-confidence. In addition to it, DPD affects the close relations of a person. Dependent personality disorder consists of three types of clusters having the following problems in each one.

  • Cluster A (Paranoid, Schizotypal, Schizoid) also termed as an odd cluster.
  • Cluster B (Narcissistic, Antisocial, Histrionic, Borderline) also termed as dramatic cluster.
  • And Cluster C (Obsessive, Avoidant, Compulsive, Dependent) also termed as anxious cluster.

Some unspecified conditions are also part of Dependent Personality Disorder. These include: Self-defeating, passive-aggressive, depressive, sadistic, and psychopathic.

Every single cluster shows a maximum level of anxiety. About one to two percent of the general public suffers from DPD. DPD is a frequently diagnosed disorder of human behavior. It equally prevails in men and women. But according to the American Psychiatric Association females suffer more than men. Symptoms of DPD usually start to appear in early adulthood.

A person with DPD experiences the following issues, when alone:

  • Panic attacks
  • Fear
  • Nervousness
  • Hopelessness
  • Anxiety

Causes and Reasons for Dependent Personality Disorder (DPD):

Many biological and developmental factors contribute to dependent personality disorder. The causes of Dependent personality disorder may be:

  • Overprotecting parenting style
  • Authoritarian siblings or friends
  • Separation anxiety in childhood
  • Chronic physical illness

In addition to these, cultural factors, negative early experiences, and traits like insecurity and self-effacing that run in a family are also responsible for DPD.

Symptoms and Indications of DPD:

Dependent personality disorder (DPD) is a condition of being over-dependent on others. A person with DPD tries maximum to please others. They remain in the fear of separation and show clinging and passive behavior. DPD makes a person submissive, helpless, and need to be taken care of. They become unable to take decisions and always need constant reassurance from others.

People with (DPD) show the following symptoms:

Excessive Submissiveness:

Dependent personality disorder always remains in fear of losing support or approval. They can even agree with something they know is wrong only to avoid an argument. They can never tolerate opposition that is why they compromise in anyways.

They hide their appropriate anger and get abused. They can even perform irritating chores and unreasonable demands because of the fear of losing friends. Being alone is their ultimate fear. For avoiding this fear they can tolerate physical, emotional, and even sexual abuse also.

Lack of Confidence:

They face an inferiority complex that tends to deprecate their abilities. They consider any disapproval or rejection as their biggest defeat. Additionally, they interpret criticism as proof of their incompetence. Eventually, this further undermines their level of confidence.

Maximum Dependence:

People with DPD never feel confident. They always remain sure that they are not able to do anything. That is why they face difficulty to start a new task or doing something alone. They avoid taking responsibilities and present their self as an incomplete person. They seek for continuous reassurance and help. In actual they don’t want to learn the skills to live independently. That is why they perpetuate their dependency.

Need for Care:

People with DPD have fear inside that they cannot take care of themselves. They use self-abasement to get sympathy and care from others. They always remain in need of a person who could take responsibility for their life.

They seek help from others even for doing some very simple actions like:

  • What to wear?
  • Where to go?
  • What profession they have to choose?

DPD makes people restricted to their spouse, friends or one of the family members, and they socially interact with only a few people they depend on. When these people lose someone or a close relation ends for them, they start searching for a substitute.

The DPD generates a disparate nature in them. They just need support or a caretaker. They do not show discrimination in choosing a substitute.

How To Test Dependent Behavioral Disorder?

Trained mental health professionals diagnose DPD, similar to other personality disorders. There is no need for a blood, genetic, or laboratory test to diagnose DPD. But it is a fact that a general practitioner or family physician is not able to identify DPD. A psychologist diagnoses DPD by comparing symptoms and early life experiences of a person.

The health professional diagnoses the presence of DPD in a person by observing their behavior. Presence of at least five of these issues in a person may confirm the DPD.

  • If a person feels difficult to take daily life decisions without reassurance and excess advice of others.
  • The person remains ready to do anything or any task without their will and happiness. They only wish to get support from others.
  • A person feels unhappy and helpless when he/she has to be alone.
  • If an individual needs others to be responsible for his/her most aspects of life.
  • A person feels a lack of motivation and energy to start anything on their own.
  • When a relationship ends for them, they feel an urgent need for a new relationship with anyone without any prejudice.
  • If a person feels difficult to make an argument or expressing their opinion because of the fear of losing support and favor.
  • When a person preoccupies his/her self with the fear of failure and loneliness.
  • If anyone has zero confidence in their judgments.
  • The person shows no trust in their abilities.

Treatment For Dependent Personality Disorder:

The treatment for Dependent Personality Disorder can be classified into three types:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and try talk therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Medication

Treatment for DPD may base upon a single treatment or it may be the combination of all three kinds of treatments. DPD is difficult to manage, but treatment can cause improvement. Treatment can enhance daily functioning abilities and decision-making.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) & Try Talk Therapy:

Here are some of the ways through which CBT can be provided to the people suffering from this problem:

Talk to the Doctor:

A patient must talk to his/her doctor before undergoing DPD therapy. It is a fact that ADP has some specific options for treatment. But like any other diseases there is more to examine. Personal circumstances, medical history, and specific situations change the way of treatment.

Try Talk Therapy:

Talk therapy is the best treatment for DPD. Regular sessions with a therapist help a patient to deal with negative thoughts and behavior. The patient improves self-esteem and tries to make independent choices. The ideal therapy for DPD must be short and focused. Long term therapy causes patients dependent on the therapist.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy Sessions:

Cognitive behavior therapy is a more interactive form of treatment used to treat DPD. CBC sessions change the thought patterns in patients and replace existing thought patterns with more helpful, productive, and independent ones. The therapist identifies the triggering points for the patient that can move a patient back to their dependent behavior. The therapist figures out the ways to desensitize triggering situations for patients. The therapists also suggest some homework for patients after CBT sessions.

Being Assertive:

People with DPD mostly face lack of assertiveness. The therapy sessions encourage patients to understand how to be assertive, and practice being assertive.

Build Confidence:

Another advantage of CBT is to build confidence in people with DPD. Self-confidence boosts their capabilities and skills. The patient tries to take decisions by their self and accepts the challenges of performing tasks individually.

Spend More Time Alone:

DPD creates a fear of loneliness in a person, and they avoid being alone. CBT efforts to help patients spending more time alone. The patient starts with a minimum period of 15 minutes alone initially. When a patient starts bearing this time gap of being alone, the therapist increases duration. This gradual increase in time shows the progress of the patient. During this period, the patient works on using relaxation techniques. To ease tension patient can also perform:

  • Occasional deep breaths
  • Shrugging shoulders
  • Flexing of one body part after another
  • Turning head to look up and down, then left/right
  • Opening and closing of eyes
  • Shifting of arms, wrists, ankles, and fingers
  • Forehead flexing in small moves
  • Flexing of jaws and face

The patient spends a few seconds on each section of the body. The patient performs some actions simultaneously or in collaboration and some in progression.

Move Forward Towards A Healthier Relationship:

People with DPD mostly suffer from abusive relations because of their need of having someone in their life. That is why the next goal of CBT is to help the person to come out of abusive connections. Therapy aids the patient in making healthier relationships. The patient gets the courage to come out of abusive correlations.

Group Therapy:

In some cases of DPD, group therapy works more effectively. In this procedure patient with DPD put in a group of people. This group mostly consists of individuals with dependency issues. Sometimes the group includes members with other personality disorders.

These sessions of group therapy help the person with DPD to acquire adaptive behavior to become independent. But this therapy has its limitations. Group therapy is ineffective in case of extreme antisocial tendencies or severe impairment with DPD. In rare cases of DPD therapist recommends group therapy with family or friends.

Along with group therapy, support groups for DPD are also helpful. These groups provide the patient with an atmosphere where he/she can implement what they learn through therapy. Every individual in these groups likely going through similar situations. That is why a patient can easily discuss several issues. They can share their problems and challenges with each other.


In the case of co-occurring conditions like anxiety and depression with DPD, medication may be helpful. In this kind of situation, only therapies cannot work properly. But medication must be the last option for DPD patients. It might possible that the patient with DPD could become dependent on the drugs or may abuse controlled substances.

Doctors may use several types of medications. There is no single or specific type of medication for the treatment of DPD. Drugs like mood stabilizers, antidepressants, and tranquilizers are mostly prescribed by doctors. But there is no FDA-approved medication for it.

Home Remedies to Help With DPD:

Along with Psychotherapies and medications, there are many home remedies also available. People with DPD can carry out these methods to feel better:


Gardening is a perfect activity to encourage an outdoor lifestyle. It creates a positive impact on health. It also supports a person with DPD to spend more time alone with plants and flowers.


It is also recommended by therapists that writing is also good for DPD patients. Writing about the past, childhood, and other memories the patient to face realities. It creates an imaginary world for the person where he/she can face their fears with more courage and strength. But it also may cause some issues for a person with DPD. It’s better to talk to your doctor before writing.


Exercise is generally helpful in all kinds of personality disorders. Exercises like Yoga, swimming, and walking focus the mind as well as the body.

All these kinds of workouts help to strengthen your body and mind. And these exercises also help to relieve anxiety and depression.

Meditation Therapies:

Mindfulness, Aromatic therapies, and Meditation are also good for DPD. All these methods work positively to reduce symptoms of depression. These techniques aid a person to overcome their fears regarding being alone, helpless, and sad.

Is our next generation really developing DPD?

Considering the symptoms of DPD, we can broadly conclude that our future generation is not suffering from DPD in its real sense. By this we mean that our generation is not dependent on people any more. However, gadgets including tablets and mobile phones are becoming the source of their dependency.

In technical terms, it is known as Nomophobia (No mobile phone phobia). But the symptoms of this problem can be easily related to DPD. It can also be closely related to social anxiety disoder. So, we should observe such symptoms in young individuals and try to help them at an early stage. What’s your opinion on it?

You can read more about different fields of psychology here.

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