Dependent Personality Disorder


Dependent Personality Disorder is the name of a Personality Disorder that is characterised by an extensive dependence on other people. The disorder is part of the ‘Anxious and Feaful’ cluster of personality disorders. People with Dependent Personality Disorder typically don’t enjoy independence, and are reliant on other people to fulfil emotional and physical needs. The disorder was once known as Asthenic Personality Disorder. This article provides a general look at this disorder.


Personality disorders affect many people, making life very difficult



Someone with Dependent Personality Disorder will typically:

  • Be unable to make any decisions on their own – always requesting others make decisions for them. Others  opinions are typically more important to them than their own.
  • Feel powerless compared to others.
  • Possess a fear of abandonment or rejection when communicating with an authority figure.
  • Require constant approval from others.
  • Exhibit persistent low confidence.
  • Be ‘clingy’ towards certain people.
  • Suffer from feelings of isolation and loneliness when not surrounded by people.
  • Have a pessimistic attitude.
  • Be very sensitive to criticism.



The exact cause of Dependent Personality Disorder is unknown. There appear to be certain risk factors, such as an individual who had a neglectful childhood, or equally an abusive childhood. Those who have overprotective parents are also more at risk in developing the disorder. Moreover, having a family history of Anxiety has also been linked to the disorder. The disorder appears to affect more women than men. The disorder can manifest at any point, though its onset is typically present by adulthood.



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If you suspect you have a personality disorder, it is generally advisable to see your GP. It is likely that they will refer you to a specialist. This specialist will perform a diagnosis – which will involve asking you several questions about your condition and the impact it has had on your life. Generally, the clinician will use guidelines from the American Psychiatric Association to confirm a diagnosis. There has been some controversy over its suitability for making a diagnosis. The guidelines state a diagnosis can be made if five of the following factors are present.


  1. Has difficulty in making everyday decisions without excessive advice and reassurance from others.
  2. Needs others to take responsibility for major areas of their life.
  3. Has difficulty in disagreeing with others due to a fear of losing the support of friendship of an individual.
  4. Struggles to initiate a project on their own due to a lack of self-confidence in their decision-making.
  5. Goes to extreme lengths to obtain support from others – often putting themselves in danger to do so
  6. Feels uncomfortable and helpless when alone due to a fear of being unable to care or cope when alone.
  7. When one relationship ends, they urgently seek another relationship.
  8. Is pre-occupied by thoughts and fears of being left alone.


Source: Simonelli, Alessandra; Parolin, Micol (2017). Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences. Springer, Cham. pp. 1–11. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-28099-8_578-1.



Individuals diagnosed with Dependent Personality Disorder are normally treated with Psychotherapy. The therapy will be used with the intention of making an individual more independent – and to help facilitate a change in thought-process. The ultimate aim is to help improve their self-esteem and confidence, which should in theory help someone with the disorder to become more independent. Of all of the personality disorders, Dependent disorder is generally one of the easiest to cure. However, it will likely take considerable time in therapy to achieve this change. Patients who suffer from Anxiety or Depression as a result of the disorder can be given medication – normally an antidepressant.



Other Personality Disorders: