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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    TOP

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    TOP

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    TOP

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    TOP

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.

Treatment    TOP

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    TOP

Other treatments, such as cognitive behavioral therapy or group therapy can help you manage symptoms.

Prevention    TOP

There are no current guidelines to prevent dependent personality disorder.

RESOURCES:

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

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

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

References:

Personality disorder. Mental Health America website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed November 12, 2014.
Last reviewed December 2015 by Adrian Preda, MD
Last Updated: 12/20/2014

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