WHAT IS DEPENDANT PERSONALITY DISORDER?

We all like to be loved. It's a basic human need, but for those living with Dependant Personality Disorder (DPD), that need to be looked after, and the fear of not being taken care of, can be very problematic.

Dependant Personality Disorder quite a rare condition affecting 'only' around 0.5% of the population. That might sound like a small percentage, but in terms of the population of the world, it's a lot of people.

For those living with Dependant Personality Disorder (DPD), they will have a long-lasting need to be looked after and a very real fear of being abandoned or separated from the important people in their life. We all miss those people we care for when they're not around, but for most people this longing won't affect our lives in a negative way. That isn't the case for those with DPD.

They believe they simply can't live their lives without the help of other people. This goes beyond being 'clingy' or 'needy', but is often seen that way. Next time you disregard someone you've met because they appear that way, you might want to reconsider why.

Because of this necessity to be looked after and the fear that exists when they are not being, people with DPD begin to elicit behaviour that will encourage others to look after them. They will disregard their own abilities and be more pessimistic about things in general. Any criticisms they may receive will only serve to confirm their insecurities.

They will avoid becoming responsible for things, even those they should control in their own life and their only social interactions will often be with those they see as being dependant on.

THE SYMPTOMS

As we mentioned, those living with DPD may, to those unfamiliar with the condition, appear needy and clinging over a prolonged period of time, but it's not as simple as that (is it ever?). The symptoms of Dependant Personality Disorder may include:

  • Problems making everyday decisions; they will need to take advice and reassurance from others for even the simplest of choices.
  • The need for almost constant reassurance in every aspect of their life.
  • Feeling uncomfortable or helpless when alone.
  • The inability to start projects for fear of failing, rather than the lack of ability or motivation.
  • Not disagreeing with other people's views, not because they do agree, but because they feel they will be rejected by having an opposing opinion.

Dependant Personality Disorder isn't usually diagnosed in children or early-year teenagers, but it can happen. They will have had to show these kind of symptoms for over a year before being diagnosed. The symptoms often start to decrease when you reach your 40s and 50s.

WHAT CAUSES DEPENDANT PERSONALITY DISORDER?

Dependant Personality Disorder usually begins to show signs of developing when people are in the early part of adulthood; either their late teens or early 20s. In younger people, it is often diagnosed as 'Separation Anxiety Disorder' and can develop into DPD in later life.

No one knows why DPD manifests itself in some people and not others. It's not a great answer we know, but it is a fact. As with many so-called 'personality disorders', it is probably caused by a combination of social, biological and psychological factors.

How we are raised as children and how we interact with people as we grow may play a part. How your 'world' is shaped by your parents and the environment you are brought up in may contribute, as too will your genetic make-up (we're not talking guy-liner).

It's not about how you develop it, it's about how you manage it and there are ways to do just that.

WHAT TREATMENTS ARE AVAILABLE?

There is no magic wand with any form of mental illness that will 'cure' it. There are a number of treatments and self-help strategies that will help you deal with Dependant Personality Disorder.

As with many conditions, there will be medication you can take to lessen how DPD feels and how it controls your life. Psychotherapy, in various forms, will help too. There are a number of things you can do yourself that may help. Finding and joining a support group may help you, but this shouldn't be considered a solution on its own.


If you live with DPD, there may be some organisations on our Where To Turn pages that can help you. If not, and you know of one, please let us know and we'll look into it.

Also, if you'd like to share your experiences of living with Dependant Personality Disorder with our community so they can better understand how it feels, please take a look at our 'Men Tell' section.