Dependent Personality Disorder: Diagnosis and Treatment


Have you ever wondered if you have Dependent Personality Disorder or traits that resemble this diagnosis? 

Dependent Personality Disorder belongs to a cluster of three personality disorders named the Anxious/Fearful Cluster.  This cluster of personality disorders experiences a higher level of anxiety, nervousness or fear.  DPD is one of ten diagnosable Personality Disorders.

Problematic personality traits become diagnostic when they are inflexible, maladaptive and cause significant impairment in functioning.  These problematic patterns typically present in early adulthood or adolescence and can be seen across a variety of situations.  The DSM-V states the the essential feature of  a personality disorder is a continuing pattern of inner experience and behavior that deviates noticeably from the expectations of the individual’s culture and is manifested in at least two of the following:

  • thinking
  • emotional expression
  • interpersonal functioning
  • impulse control

Traits of Dependent Personality Disorder:

  • A strong need to be taken care of by other people with the added fear of losing the support from these relationships
  • Difficulty being alone/without relationships
  • Experience distress even when just thinking about being alone
  • Can appear ‘clingy’ and submissive
  • Fear of conflict preventing self advocacy and making self susceptible to being taken advantage of
  • Extreme difficulty making your own decisions, even everyday decisions and look to others for help
  • Need for constant reassurance
  • Passive approach to most all areas of life and will allow others to make major life decisions on their behalf
  • Take on unnecessary responsibility and blame
  • Fearful to disagree with others
  • Failure to take initiative
  • Overly sensitive to criticism
  • High need for validation and approval
  • Poor or non existent boundaries
  • Pessimistic and lacking self confidence
  • May go to extreme lengths for nurturing and support from others
  • Fear of being unable to care for self
  • Dependence is not solely on dating relationships it can also be seen in relationships with care givers or loved ones

Treatment of Dependent Personality Disorder

Individuals with this diagnosis rarely seek out treatment, initially, for a personality disorder.   They will typically begin treatment due to a problem in their life likely resulting from issues related to the diagnosis.  Individuals with DPD are prone to anxiety and depression and will likely notice these symptoms to be problematic first.

The goals of therapy for Dependent Personality Disorder include:

  • Building self-esteem
  • Developing an individual identity
  • Becoming more active
  • Forming healthy relationships with appropriate boundaries

With treatment, many people can experience improvement in symptoms.  If you are struggling with these traits and are ready for a change do not hesitate to contact us.  We can help!