What is dependant personality disorder?

One of several personality disorders it is defined as a cluster or class C disorder which is characterised by anxiety, nervousness or fearfulness.

People who suffer from this condition are often described as being needy or clingy and having an overwhelming need to be taken care of.  They are also passive and submissive, putting up with people being abusive or taking advantage of them, as they know they will do things they don’t want to do just to please them.

They fear disapproval, so will avoid confrontation or arguments and struggle to deal with the breakup of relationships, as their fear of abandonment is so overwhelming.  This can lead them to move on to new relationships quickly as they don’t cope well with being alone.

They also have difficulty making everyday decisions without consulting other people and will often seek reassurance about what they should do, preferring other people to make decisions for them.


As with many mental health conditions the cause of dependant personality disorder is not fully known, it is believed however that a mixture of genetics, developmental, environmental and psychological factors are involved.  It is also believed that the following experiences can make it more likely for someone to develop the disorder:

·      Having suffered a chronic physical illness as a child

·      A family history of personality disorders, anxiety or depression

·      Suffering childhood abuse including verbal or physical abuse or neglect

·      Being abandoned by their parents or caregiver at an early age

·      Having parents who were stifling or withdrawn or who discouraged individual thinking


Personality disorders can often share similar symptoms, but they will also have distinct and different symptoms that define them.  Dependant personality disorder can cause several symptoms which can include the following:

·      Being oversensitive to criticism

·      Lacking self-confidence

·      Being passive or submissive

·      Have difficulty being on their own

·      Are prone to being pessimistic

·      Will avoid personal responsibility

·      Believe they are unable to care for themselves

·      Have difficulty making decisions often letting others make decisions for them

·      Have an extreme fear of abandonment

·      Will avoid confrontation or arguments for fear of losing the approval or support of others

·      Struggle with feelings of helplessness when relationships end

·      Tend to be naive and fantasise about things

·      Place the needs of their caregivers above their own

·     Are more likely to accept mistreatment or abuse from others

Professional Help

People with this disorder often only go to see their doctor with related conditions like anxiety or depression.  Whilst their doctor can prescribe medications to help, such as antianxiety medication, mood stabilisers or antidepressants, they can also rule out any other underlying medical conditions that may have caused their symptoms.  They would then recommend they see a mental health specialist to diagnose and treat the condition. 

Psychotherapy and (CBT) cognitive behavioural therapy are both used to help improve self-confidence, encourage self-reliance and the development of more positive relationships by changing negative thinking and behaviours. People with dependant personality disorder can often require long-term therapy.  Written by Jan, Jeana and Wendy at Barnsley Hypnosis and Counselling (UK).  For more free information click above link.

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