What is Dependent Personality Disorder?

What is Dependent Personality Disorder?
Page content

What is Dependent Personality Disorder?

The typical characteristics of a person suffering from dependent personality disorder are low levels of self-confidence, constant reliance on others, the fear of separation, tolerance of ill-treatment and the inability to decide for themselves. Some of the commonly visible symptoms are intense fear, pessimism, over-sensitivity, anxiety, depression, stress, and panic. The individual is in constant search of nurture, advice, care and reassurance from others. Though this condition is diagnosed equally in both men and women, it is believed that women are more susceptible to this personality disorder.

What is Dependent Personality Disorder? Causes

Though the exact cause of dependent personality disorder is still something of a mystery, childhood illnesses, untoward incidents and parenting styles are considered to be potential causes. A severe illness or an unfortunate event occurring at a very young age might cause a child to become emotionally dependent on his or her parents or any other source of support. Moreover, authoritative and overprotective parenting can tend to make children too dependent on their mum and dad. Inheritance may also be a cause and there is active research interest in looking for a genetic basis of some of the symptoms of this personality disorder.

Dependent Personality Disorder and Relationships

People with dependent personality disorder depend heavily on relationships for support. This is always accompanied by an intense fear of separation - so much so that the dependent person is willing to go to any length to maintain these relationships. In extreme situations and bad relationships this can sometimes include tolerating physical and mental abuse from the people they are dependent on.

The fear of being abandoned or neglected also causes these individuals to abstain from expressing their opinions or their disagreements with the opinions of others. When a relationship ends, a person with this disorder is filled with desperation as they want to find another relationship as soon as possible to satisfy their emotional anxiety.

Diagnosis of the Disorder

Like any other personality disorder, there are no laboratory tests involved in the diagnosis, but the doctor will make a thorough examination of the patient’s medical history in order to be sure that the symptoms presented are not being caused by physical illness.

If physical illness is ruled out, the patient is referred to a psychologist or a psychiatrist who will make a diagnosis with the help of personal interviews and other assessment tools. This entire process will also help the individual to understand what is dependent personality disorder and what its symptoms are.

Dependent personality disorder is so prevalent in this day and age that most people suffering from the condition do not seek medical assistance because they do not find these symptoms abnormal.

A proper understanding of what is dependent personality disorder would help these individuals lead a better life free from the bonds of emotional and physical dependency on others. If this condition is left untreated, the patient will suffer in all areas of their life.

NB: This article is for information purposes only and is not intended to replace sound medical advice and opinion.




Image Credit:mzacha/morgueFile