Dependent personality disorder (DPD) is an anxiety disorder characterized by the fear of being alone. People with dependent personality disorder experience anxiety when not around their loved ones and acquaintances. They rely heavily on other people to experience a sense of comfort and reassurance, as well as to receive support and guidance. People who suffer from this disorder usually experience feelings of insecurity and fear of being alone. People with dependent personality disorder constantly need confirmation and reassurance from others to maintain their performance and efficiency.
A dependent personality disorder is one of the issues in the mental health field in which sufferers show an excessive need for care and support from others. As a result, their behavior is demanding and submissive. This disorder is classified as a category C personality disorder, including avoidant personality disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. The common feature of C personality disorders is the high level of anxiety in all of them. For a person with dependent personality disorder, the feeling of loneliness and helplessness is the primary source of this feeling of fear.
People with dependent personality disorder usually experience changes in their behavior in early adulthood. They have a pessimistic attitude toward most situations and doubt their skills and abilities. Many sufferers call themselves “stupid” even after expressing their opinion.
Living with dependent personality disorder.
Living with dependent personality disorder can be difficult for the person, family, and friends. The essential characteristic of people with a dependent personality disorder is the fear of separation (from a partner or caregiver) to such an extent that if a relationship ends, they almost immediately try to start a new connection to fill the void. They prefer to be with anyone but not alone.
In addition, everyday decisions such as choosing clothes seem very daunting for these people, and sufferers constantly seek approval and reassurance from others for their choices and cannot make decisions on their own. The lower a person’s self-confidence, the stronger this inability to make decisions. Although a person with dependent personality disorder may be ambitious and have many dreams, they rarely take up creative tasks or start new projects due to low self-confidence and low self-belief.
Adults with this disorder usually depend on their spouses or parents to make basic decisions about work, where to live, choosing a car, and things like that, and they must get the approval of these people in all these situations. Children and adolescents who show symptoms of a dependent personality disorder usually seek help from their parents to make decisions about choosing friends, choosing clothes, choosing school or university, and things like that, and they get their parents’ approval.
It is challenging for these people to disagree with those they depend on and the people they talk to. Usually, even if they think the other person is wrong, they still make their decisions because they fear losing their close relationship with that person.
Unfortunately, people with Dependent Personality Disorder may do unpleasant tasks and tasks to get the other person’s attention if their actions do not lead to receiving care and support from others. Understanding the symptoms of dependent personality disorder can help you diagnose this disease.
Symptoms of dependent personality disorder.
Most people show some signs of dependent personality in their behavior. This means that even when a number of these traits are seen in a person’s behavior, it does not necessarily mean they are suffering from this disorder. With that in mind, here are some of the characteristics that people with Dependent Personality Disorder exhibit;
- Dependence: getting help from another person in making decisions, emotional issues, and making a living.
- Emotional blackmail: trying to control other people’s behavior using threats and punishment.
- Fear of rejection: an unfounded feeling and belief that at any moment there is a risk of being rejected and replaced by another person by your romantic partner.
- Low self-esteem: low evaluation of the value of one’s abilities and capabilities.
- Imitation: imitating the behavior, characteristics, or traits of others.
- Projection: Attributing feelings to another person, believing they have the same feelings.
- Self-loathing: hating oneself physically or behaviorally.
- Follow-up: Follow-up and virtual pursuit are too much about a person who has no desire to meet or have a relationship with him.
- Relationship testing: forcing people to demonstrate their commitment and love in a relationship repeatedly.
- Theft: This does not necessarily refer to stealing things; it may include secretly checking a loved one’s phone or even taking something without permission.
Reasons for occurrence.
The leading cause of this personality disorder is still unknown, but researchers believe that this disorder can occur due to a complex combination of genetic, social, biological, and psychological factors. This theory is referred to as the socio-psychological physical model.
- Genetic and biological factors: if a person is infected, the probability of passing this disorder to the next generation increases.
- Social factors: the way a person interacts with the people around them in the early stages of development affects the formation of this disorder.
- Psychological factors: The issue that a person learns in the early years of his life how to manage and regulate stress, mood, and personality development, as well as the environment in which a person grows up, impacts the occurrence of this disorder.
Symptoms and diagnosis.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association (DSM) lists dependent personality disorder as a category C personality disorder. Its symptoms are centered around the concept that the sufferer must depend on others to live their daily lives. People with personality disorders usually have the following symptoms;
- It is difficult for them to make decisions without the participation and guidance of others.
- They rarely express their disagreement even if they think the other person’s speech or behavior is wrong.
- They want others to make decisions for them about important life issues.
- Due to a lack of self-confidence and self-belief, they do not start new activities or work.
- They go out of their way to get the support of others.
- When they are alone, they feel uncomfortable and helpless.
- Soon after the end of the previous relationship, they start a new relationship.
- The constant fear that they will end up alone.
- They are very vulnerable to criticism.
To confirm the diagnosis of this disorder, a person must meet at least five of the eight criteria listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association. Many experience only a few of these symptoms, making them difficult to diagnose.
The diagnosis of this category C personality disorder usually occurs in early adulthood because, at this age, most personality disorders show stable behavior patterns after several years and become detectable. Because of the ongoing behavioral changes during adolescence that result from growth, diagnosing this disorder in childhood or adolescence is rare. If the disease is diagnosed before the age of 18, this means that the symptoms must have been present for more than a year.
When diagnosing dependent personality disorder, cultural and age factors should be considered. In some cultural customs, submissive or dependent behavior towards the opposite sex or authorities and prominent figures is considered normal, which may be confused with the symptoms of dependent personality disorder. Therefore, the correct diagnosis has been made when the criteria about a person reach the level of genealogy, and the person is outside of cultural norms.
Dependent personality disorder has common characteristics with other personality disorders, although the severity of these symptoms decreases with age.
When should we seek treatment for a dependent personality disorder?
As mentioned earlier, most cases of Dependent Personality Disorder are diagnosed in early adulthood. But experts agree that, like other personality disorders, the sooner this disease is diagnosed, the higher the quality and chances of its treatment. Suppose you see the symptoms of dependent personality disorder in yourself but are unsure whether you qualify for a complete diagnosis. In that case, you should still seek the help of a psychologist or psychotherapist. If there is this disorder and it is not treated, many complications, including the following, can be caused to you;
- Creating other anxiety disorders such as avoidant personality disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and phobia disorder
- Drug abuse
- Morbid fears and phobias
Getting help with dependent personality disorder and early treatment can prevent these complications. Suppose you’re concerned that you may have a dependent personality disorder. In that case, you may feel a little anxious about seeing a counselor or therapist because you feel like you’re hurting your relationship if you talk about your personality disorder. Try not to worry about this. Recognizing that you have a problem is the first step to recovery. Talk to a psychologist or psychotherapist about your concerns; they will help you find the proper treatment for your situation.
Treatment of dependent personality disorder.
Counseling is an effective treatment for dependent personality disorder, and the approaches used in this method include cognitive behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy, depending on which way is best for the affected person. Although people suffering from this personality disorder seem to adapt to most treatment methods and strategies, this excessive adaptation may be a symptom of the disorder itself. As a result, treating patients may be more complex than the initial therapist imagines. Below are some of the most common psychotherapy methods to help treat dependent personality disorders.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT):
Cognitive behavioral therapy seeks to change the patient’s thinking (cognition) and behavior to treat his personality disorders. A therapist analyzes negative thought patterns, discusses with the patient how they affect a person’s daily life and tries to replace them with better thought patterns. Regarding the behavioral approach, the therapist examines harmful behaviors, helps the patient understand why they occur, and, most importantly, guides the person on how to change them.
Psychodynamics is a method based on the belief that adult behavior patterns are related to adverse childhood experiences. These childhood experiences create a belief pattern that stays with a person throughout adulthood. Group and individual psychodynamic psychotherapy sessions can benefit people with dependent personality disorder.
Interpersonal therapy focuses on how mental health issues can affect a person’s relationships. After conducting an initial assessment in the initial sessions, interpersonal problems are identified by the therapist and ranked in order of importance. Then the goal will be to create a set of necessary changes and how to implement them in everyday life. This type of treatment is most suitable for people with dependent personality disorder because the treatment is very targeted and usually lasts between 12 and 16 sessions.
Group therapy can be helpful for people who have problems in their social relationships and lack decision-making skills or who cannot express their assertiveness when necessary. Group dynamics can more effectively highlight and heal people’s insecurities than a one-on-one session. In the group, people are encouraged to discuss their issues with others with similar conditions.
What is Dependent Personality Disorder (DPD)?
Dependent Personality Disorder (DPD) is an anxiety disorder characterized by the fear of being alone. People with DPD experience anxiety when not around their loved ones and acquaintances. They rely heavily on other people for comfort, reassurance, support, and guidance. They constantly need confirmation and reassurance from others to maintain their performance and efficiency.
How does DPD affect a person’s behavior?
People with DPD usually experience changes in their behavior in early adulthood. They have a pessimistic attitude toward most situations and doubt their skills and abilities. They often call themselves “stupid” even after expressing their opinion. They find it challenging to disagree with those they depend on and the people they talk to. They may even do unpleasant tasks to get the other person’s attention if their actions do not lead to receiving care and support from others.
What are the symptoms of Dependent Personality Disorder?
Symptoms of DPD include dependence on others for decision-making and emotional issues, emotional blackmail, fear of rejection, low self-esteem, imitation of others, projection of feelings onto others, self-loathing, excessive follow-up of a person, relationship testing, and theft (which could include secretly checking a loved one’s phone or taking something without permission).
What causes Dependent Personality Disorder?
The exact cause of DPD is unknown, but it’s believed to occur due to a complex combination of genetic, social, biological, and psychological factors. This theory is referred to as the socio-psychological physical model.
How is Dependent Personality Disorder diagnosed?
DPD is diagnosed based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association (DSM) criteria. A person must meet at least five of the eight criteria listed in the DSM to be diagnosed with DPD. The diagnosis usually occurs in early adulthood as most personality disorders show stable behavior patterns after several years and become detectable.
When should treatment be sought for Dependent Personality Disorder?
Treatment should be sought as soon as symptoms of DPD are noticed. The sooner the disease is diagnosed, the higher the quality and chances of its treatment. If left untreated, DPD can lead to other complications like other anxiety disorders, depression, drug abuse, and morbid fears and phobias.
What are some treatment methods for Dependent Personality Disorder?
Counseling is an effective treatment for DPD. Approaches used include cognitive behavioral therapy, psychodynamic psychotherapy, interpersonal therapy, and group therapy. The choice of therapy depends on what is best for the affected person.