Dependent Personality Disorder (A complete guide)

In this article, we present to you what is the Dependent Personality Disorder(DPD), what are the risk factors and how to live with DPD.

What is Dependent Personality Disorder?

We can see around us people who show an attitude of helplessness and passivity and who do everything possible to hang on to others who try to make them responsible for the well-being of their own lives.

These people seek fusion, become dependent on others and, out of fear of loneliness, make considerable efforts to please them just to not be let go.

Although some people have this personality structure, they can amplify their weaknesses and insecurities by cultivating and nurturing dependent relationships, or they can lessen their weaknesses by addressing attitudes that encourage autonomy.

One of the most distinctive symptoms of the dependent personality disorder is the long-term need to care for a person and the fear of being abandoned or separated from important people in his or her life.

 People with dependent personality disorders are characterized by the following actions and traits:

  • seeking overprotection and domination from others
  • avoiding liability
  • becoming anxious when faced with decisions
  • social interactions tend to be limited to a very small number of persons to whom the individual is dependent
  • pessimism and self-doubt 
  • Excessive self-criticism
  • caring too much about other people’s approval 
  • no real independent initiative
  • an anxiety disorder of separation or abandonment in childhood or adolescence may predispose an individual to dependent personality disorder.

The main characteristics of dependent personalities are the need to be taken care of by others, an increased fear of separation, no responsibility for one’s own life, and an exacerbated fear of loneliness (they are capable of making any sacrifice in order not to be or to be alone). 

Such a person is not confident in their own strengths, has low self-esteem, constantly needs advice, reinsurance and is reluctant to do things or make decisions on their own.

He sees himself as weak, helpless and incompetent and others see him as supportive and capable.

There may also be fear of not becoming or seeming more competent because she may think that this will lead to her being abandoned or abandoned.

The basic beliefs are “I need others to survive”, “I can’t handle myself”, “Others are stronger than me, so I will do them to be able to rely on their support and support”.

What are the symptoms of dependent personality disorder?

 Dependent personality disorder is characterized by the following symptoms:

  1.  Daily decision-making is made only with supervision, advice and reassurance from others.
  2.  The person with DPD does not assume responsibility for most of the major areas of his life
  3.  Difficulty expressing disagreement with others because of fear of losing support or approval
  4. Difficulty initiating projects or doing things on his / her own (due to lack of self-confidence or skills, rather than lack of motivation or energy)
  5. Making excessive compromises to get support from others to the point of volunteering for unpleasant things.
  6. Feeling in distress when having to spend time by himself/herself. 
  7. Seeking to replace the presence of another person when the relationship comes to an end. 

In interpersonal and couple relationships such people are submissive, approving, make sacrifices to gain the support and affection of others, do not express their disagreement even when they are not right.

They limit their social relations to those they are dependent on.

In the first phase, the dependent persons try to cling to the others, to enter into their graces, to please them in order to receive their approval and acceptance.

As soon as the relationship closes and the employee observes that he or she can rely on the support and help of the other, he will do everything he can to maintain the kind of relationship he wants to be symbiotic and fusional. 

In a more or less direct way, a person with DPD will exert some pressure on their partner or friend, in order to make them feel guilty if they leave them: 

“You can not leave me because I will not handle myself, and if I do something bad it will only be your fault.”

Usually, this disorder occurs more often in women than in men.

Dependent women usually seek out dominant and possessive partners and are willing to tolerate abuse, humiliation and injustice on their part precisely because they do not think they could do it on their own, so they “overlook” or minimize the severity of couple problems. 

They have a fear of huge abandonment and the thoughts that they might be abandoned to create uncertainty, anxiety, despair.

So, they are willing to endure everything just to not be alone because loneliness scares them the hardest and makes them feel helpless.

Dependent persons are constantly confronted with the fear of separation and the thought that a relationship can end or cool down makes them feel anxious and vulnerable.

When a relationship ends, they will also feel insecure and will do their best to find someone else to hang on to, as long as they live and in the shadow of which they will position themselves in a second place.

Dependent personality disorder can be treated with the right form of intervention. 

What is Codependency and why is it important? 

The term codependent describes people who live or have a relationship with a dependent person, characterized by the dependency – emotional, social and sometimes physical – towards another person. 

Co-dependence is a psychological concept that refers to people who feel extremely dependent on certain loved ones in their lives and who feel responsible for their feelings and actions.

What are the red flags of codependency?

 Behaviours that correlate with codependency include:

  • Low self-esteem and low level of narcissism;
  • Depression, anxiety, stress;
  • Low emotional expressivity;
  • Difficulty in saying NO and low limits in relation to others;
  • Display of emotional reactivity;
  • Feeling the obligation to take care of people; 
  • Problems in communicating openly and honestly, controlling, in particular, others;
  • The need to be liked by everyone; 
  • The need to always be in a relationship:
  • Denial of one’s own needs, thoughts and feelings;
  • Having privacy issues;
  • Confusion between love and mercy in relationships with others.

This kind of dependency is compatible with a surprising degree of aggression.

The need for care and support can lead to abusive behaviour, intimidation, and violence.

A jealous man who abuses his wife or partner may be displaying this kind of dependency. 

Dependent men are especially at risk of becoming abusers when they fear that the partner is about to leave or getting too close to another person.

Some think that therapists treating abusive men need to confront the issue of dependency more often.

Despite what many assume, studies have not found a high rate of dependent personality among abused women in general.

Many of these women show apparent dependent traits mainly because they are terrorized, isolated, economically dependent, or worried about their children.

But when the most severely abused women are taken as a separate group, there is some evidence that dependent personality is more common — perhaps because such women are more vulnerable, to begin with, or find it more difficult to leave even when that would be the best choice.

What are the causes of Dependent personality disorder?

The development of a dependent personality in adulthood may be caused by certain forms of separation anxiety in childhood, some parental behaviours and attitudes and life events.

If our parents had certain attitudes of excessive dependence on any kind of external authority, we too will most likely take this model unconsciously.

If a daughter sees that her mother is dependent on her husband, she may even imitate that type of behaviour, or if her father is dependent on one of the parents, the child will believe that the attitude of dependence is normal and especially desirable, especially if it pays attention to “positive” aspects of secondary benefits such as excessive care or meeting needs.

Separation anxiety is another factor that contributes to the development of dependent traits.

When he is small, the universe of the child revolves around the parents of whom he is completely dependent. 

The needs of safety and affection are paramount needs for a child and his or her inner world can be easily shaken when not feeling close to their parent when they cannot rely on them when they are unpredictable and unpredictable.

Separation from a parent can be a real trauma for a child, so it is important that when the two are separated (whether they leave the child in kindergarten, grandparents or in more serious cases if the illness occurs and the child must be hospitalized) the parent to assure him of the love and care that he carries, to assure him that he will return and that he will be safe and in his absence.

What can you do if you have a dependent personality?

If you have DPD, not all hope is lost and there are certain things you can do. 

Although you are used to consulting with others when it comes to decision making, at least in one case you no longer ask for anyone’s advice and act on your own initiative.

What is the worst thing that can happen?

Broaden your social circle and multiply your activities – sign up for dance, painting, or find those activities that you enjoy and take care of.

Invest in yourself – develop your skills, perfect yourself professionally, take care of your personal development.

Start doing things on your own – whether it’s a hobby, whether it’s paying bills or going to the bank, it’s important to plan and do some things by yourself.

Stop taking on tasks that you don’t really want to do.

And last but not least, a therapeutic approach can be extremely useful.

The state of addiction diminishes your personal power and limits you very much.

There are certain things you can do to become an increasingly autonomous, powerful and responsible person.


Dependency on others is a  characteristic of dependent personality disorder (DPD).

This type of personality disorder can create problems within relationships –  since nearly all adult relationships need a degree of interdependence to be considered healthy. 

It is possible to build healthy relationships when you have DPD.

Awareness of the condition, and how it affects your interactions with others, is a good first step.

Please feel free to leave any comment on the content or questions you may have, in the comments section below. 

FAQ about Dependent Personality Disorder

What are the characteristics of dependent personality disorder?

Some common characteristics of dependent personality disorder include: needy, passive, and clinging behaviour; fear of separation; an inability to make decisions, even everyday decisions like what to wear, without the advice and reassurance of others.

What is a dependent personality disorder?

A dependent personality disorder is an anxious personality disorder characterized by an inability to be alone.

People with DPD develop symptoms of anxiety when they’re not around others. 

How do you treat dependent personality disorder?

The primary method of treatment for dependent personality disorder is Behavioral health therapy.

The purpose is to help the person become more active and independent and to learn to form healthy relationships. 

What causes dependent personality disorder?

The exact causes of dependent personality disorder are not known.

Some psychiatrists believe that DPD may be caused by a combination of biological and developmental factors.

People exposed to authoritarian or overprotective parenting styles, chronic physical illness, or separation anxiety during childhood may be more likely to develop dependent personality traits.

What is the opposite of dependent personality disorder?

The opposite of the characteristics of the dependent personality disorder would be the Schizoid personality disorder. 

What are the 4 personality disorders?

The four major categories that include personality disorders are –  antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder.


  1. Dependent Personality Disorder Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Self-Help Guide: What Are Personality Disorders, Treatment, Signs, Symptoms, CBT Techniques, All Covered 
  2. Cognitive Therapy of Personality Disorders, Third Edition
  3. The Dependent Personality
  4. Facing Codependence: What It Is, Where It Comes from, How It Sabotages Our Lives
  5. Dependent Personality Disorder – A Reference Guide
  6. Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself


  1. – Dependent personality disorder
  2. DSM‑5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition
  3. Dependent personality disorder: A critical review (Disney, 2013)
  4. Dependent Personality Disorder: Outlook / Prognosis – Cleveland Clinic, 2014.
  5. Dependent Personality Disorder –
  6. How to Develop Healthy Relationships with Dependent Personality –

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