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.
It is not clear what causes personality disorders, but it is likely a combination of genetic factors and a person's environment.
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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Dependent personality disorder is more common in women and in early adulthood. Other factors that may increase your chances of a personality disorder:
- Early childhood parental loss
- Child abuse or neglect
- Chronic physical illness during childhood
Other associated psychological problems can include:
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
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 includes counseling, medication, and therapy. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Options include:
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 may be prescribed to treat other psychological conditions, such as anxiety or depression.
Other treatments, such as cognitive behavioral therapy or group therapy can help you manage symptoms.
There are no current guidelines to prevent dependent personality disorder because the cause is unknown.
Mental Health America
National Institute of Mental Health
Canadian Psychiatric Association
Canadian Psychological Association
Overview of personality disorders. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/psychiatric-disorders/personality-disorders/overview-of-personality-disorders. Updated January 2016. Accessed January 31, 2018.
Personality disorder. Mental Health America website. Available at: http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/personality-disorder. Accessed January 31, 2018.
Last reviewed November 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrian Preda, MD Last Updated: 12/20/2014