In Physical & Mental Health

Your Child and Dependent Personality Disorder

Do you remember the 1990s box office hit mental disorder termed “dependent personality disorder”. This personality disorder is characterized by a clinging personality that drives the patient to complete helplessness. In this article you will learn about the most common signs and symptoms of Dependent Personality Disorder, as well as its various methods of treatment. 

Psychological Dependence Definition

One of the main signs and symptoms of dependent personality disorder is excessive dependence which leads the patient to total submission and clinginess that stem out of fear of abandonment or loneliness.

In psychology, dependence is more of an emotional need rather than a physical one. People with dependent personality disorder experience a life-threatening form of dependence which leads them to believe that they would die without the people who take care of them.

Upon cessation of the dependent relationship, emotional withdrawal symptoms of psychological dependence are:

  • Unease or dissatisfaction.
  • Inability to experience pleasure.
  • Anxiety and panic attacks.

What is Codependent Behavior?

Codependence is a learned behavior that could be passed down families for many years to come. In many cultures, it is natural for every relationship to have a codependent individual. In almost all cases the woman is expected to be the codependent partner.

People who suffer from dependent personality syndrome are often involved in a codependent relationship. They may exhibit two or more of the following characteristics:

  • Caring too much to please your partner.
  • Being expected -or imagining so- to be sensitive to all your partner’s needs.
  • Covering up your partner’s messes or wrongdoings, including physical violence towards you.
  • Doing more than is required from you at home to gain approval.
  • Not feeling worthy of love.
  • Inequality in a relationship because one partner “needs” and “depends” on the other.
  • Being in a relationship with someone who is not right for you while hoping to change him/her or waiting for this change.
  • Caring for someone with a destructive behavior.
  • Staying in a relationship where someone keeps pushing you away, imagining that all it takes is for you to remain in his/her life.

Symptoms of Dependent Personality Disorder

People suffering from dependent personality disorder believe that only by behaving in a certain clingy, needy way, they will get love, support and company. They also live in fear of being alone or abandoned, so they do whatever it takes to remain in a relationship or surrounded by the people they love.

Common dependent personality disorder traits include:

  1. Avoidance and withdrawal from social situations as a defense mechanism to avoid rejection and criticism.
  2. Catastrophizing minor events or everyday problems.
  3. Self-blame, self-victimization and shame.
  4. Excessive dependency and clinginess to the point of helplessness to elicit love and nurturing from others.
  5. Submission even to abuse or sexual violence in fear of being rejected or abandoned.
  6. Liability to depression and substance abuse.
  7. Emotional blackmail.
  8. Feelings of emptiness and worthlessness.
  9. Creating relationship sabotage to draw attention to himself/herself and keep the partner busy with his/her drama.
  10. Lacking confidence in judgment or making decisions.

Treatment for Dependent Personality Disorder

Treating a person with dependent personality disorder is no easy task. Although the patient would be very compliant and cooperative with the psychiatrist, adheres to medication doses and attends sessions regularly, signs of dependence on the psychiatrist might appear. The patient might replace the partner on which he/she depended with the psychiatrist and would always seek constant reassurance and support. Dependent personality disorder requires a very skillful and trained psychiatrist, with the duration and regulation of the therapeutic regimen carefully explained before starting the treatment course.

One thing to take into consideration is that support groups are strictly prohibited as a treatment method for this personality disorder. The reason is due to fear of the patient having additional dependent relationships with members of the support group. The situation might get out of control and the therapist would find it even more difficult to treat the dependent individual.

Medication therapy is not recommended in case of dependent personality disorder because of the high risk of addiction or abuse of the drugs.

Psychotherapy is the ultimate treatment method for dependent personality disorder. Short-term psychotherapy is recommended due to managing this behavior disorder which interferes with normal functioning. A well-structured cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) helps the patient regain confidence and develop positive social skills.


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