About Dependent Personality Disorder
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About Dependent Personality Disorder

Useful information about dependent personality disorder.

Dependent personality disorder is a disorder in which a person has an excessive need to be taken care of. The need to be taken care of leads to clingy behaviors and a fear of being alone. People with this disorder are unable to make most daily living decisions without the help of another person. This disorder is found in men and women.


Individuals with this disorder spend most of their time trying to please others. They have a hard time making a decision without someone reassuring them that the decision is the right one. People with this disorder may show a wide range of symptoms including:

  • Avoid situations where they have to be responsible
  • Feeling fear and abandoned when a relationship ends
  • Jumping into another relationship when one fails
  • Sensitive to criticism
  • Very pessimistic
  • Avoidance of conflicts in fear that approval will disappear
  • Unable to be alone
  • Will tolerate abuse from others
  • Putting the needs of others before their own
  • Unable to disagree with others


The exact cause of dependent personality disorder is unknown. It may have biological and developmental factors. Some researchers believe that it has something to do with parenting style. If a parent is very strict a child may have a higher risk of obtaining this disorder.


According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (2000), there are eight criteria for dependent personality disorder. A person must meet five of the eight criteria to be diagnosed with this disorder. The criteria are:

  • Needs an excessive amount of advice from others when making a decision
  • Needs someone else to take responsibility for most areas of his or her life
  • Fears loss or approval of others if he or she disagrees
  • Difficulty initiating projects or doing things alone
  • Goes to great lengths to do things for others. May even do things that are unpleasant.
  • Beliefs that he or she is unable to care for his or herself. This belief makes him or her uncomfortable while alone.
  • When a close relationship ends he or she finds another relationship.
  • Preoccupation with fears of having to care for oneself.


Psychotherapy is the most common treatment for dependent personality disorder. During therapy the person learns to form healthy relationships and make decisions for his or herself. Medications are sometimes used to help with other disorders the person may have.


American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed., text rev.). Washington, DC

PubMed Health: Dependent personality disorder: accessed April 17, 2011

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Comments (1)

Voted up. Interesting