Dependent Personality Disorder

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 chance of developing dependent personality disorder include:
  • Early childhood parental loss
  • Child abuse or neglect
  • Chronic physical illness during childhood
Other associated psychological problems can include:

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.

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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.

RESOURCES

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

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

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Mental Health Association
http://www.cmha.ca

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

References

Dependent personality disorder. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Accessed December 15, 2011. Updated November 12, 2014.

Personality disorder. Mental Health America website. Available at: http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/personality-disorder. Accessed November 12, 2014.

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