Have you ever been told to “be more independent”, or maybe you are the one saying it to your kids, spouse, co-workers, etc.?
Have you ever heard of dependent personality disorder?
Feeling powerless, unable to care for yourself, and struggling every day with the need to be taken care of is not a good way to live.
This is how you’ll feel if you suffer from dependent personality disorder.
You may think that this type of behavior is normal. It’s not. Let’s talk about it.
What Is Dependent Personality Disorder (DPD)?
Dependent personality disorder is a mental health condition in which people feel anxious and helpless when they are not able to be taken care of by someone else.
People with dependent personality disorder have problems in their ability to be self-sufficient, along with an excessive need to be taken care of and excessive fear of being abandoned by those they rely on.
Dependent personality disorder is sometimes confused with codependent personality disorder, but they are different conditions. Read more about dependent personality disorder vs. codependency.
Dependent Personality Disorder is on the Cluster C Spectrum.
Most of the personality disorders we dig into here are on the Cluster B spectrum. But according to the Mayo Clinic, dependent personality disorder is a Cluster C personality disorder.
“Cluster C personality disorders are characterized by anxious, fearful thinking or behavior,” the Mayo Clinic says. “They include avoidant personality disorder, dependent personality disorder, and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.”
Dependent Personality Disorder is an Anxious Personality Disorder.
When you first learn about DPD, you might think it’s just a formal diagnosis of codependency.
But according to the Cleveland Clinic, it’s an anxious personality disorder, and there’s a lot more to it than that.
In short, someone with DPD feels generally helpless, like they can’t take care of themselves at all.
People with dependent personality disorder may feel like they need to be around other people all the time in order to feel good about themselves. They may try to please others and avoid conflict at all costs, even if it means giving up their own needs.
It’s not unusual for people with this condition to feel like no one understands them or supports them as much as they need—and this can lead them to become depressed or anxious.
What does dependent personality disorder feel like?
You may notice that people with Dependent Personality Disorder have great difficulty initiating projects or doing things on their own (because of fear of disapproval or failure).
They need other people to assume responsibility for them, make most of their decisions, give them advice and instructions, and take care of most of the constructive action in their lives.
- You’re highly dependent on the people around you, even relying on them to make decisions for you.
- You need others to take care of you.
- You are afraid to be alone and you worry that you might not be okay if you do find yourself going solo.
- You also do whatever you can to make the people around you like you, including but not limited to not disagreeing with them, even if you’re not on the same page.
- As with codependency, you are likely to have a fear of abandonment.
- You wouldn’t know what to do if your partner needed you to do something for them.
- You wouldn’t be likely to tolerate excessive emotional, psychological, or physical abuse in order to maintain the relationship as someone who is codependent might.
- People with DPD sometimes act helpless and refuse to handle their adult responsibilities, preferring to have them taken care of by someone else.
- With DPD, you aren’t likely to speak up for yourself and you might avoid arguments by agreeing with others even if you secretly don’t agree with what someone wants to do.
- As you would with codependency, you’d be likely to stick with an unhealthy relationship due to the fear of being alone.
- People with dependent personality disorder feel anxious and worried when they think that someone who is close to them might be harmed in any way, or think that they are abandoning them. This can make it hard for someone with dependent personality disorder to have personal relationships with others.
How can you heal from dependent personality disorder?
Dependent personality disorder causes feelings of shame and guilt in yourself, as well as your inability to be alone. It is also characterized by your pattern of depending on others to meet your own personal needs.
It is a type of emotional dependency that centers around seeking approval or validation from your environment.
Is there any hope for you if you have DPD?
YES! There are numerous treatment options available to help you begin the road to healing from dependent personality disorder.
Of course, as you’ve likely already realized, dependent personality disorder can be a difficult disorder to overcome, as a sufferer’s sense of self is bound up in the relationship.
However, there are still many things a person can do to heal from DPD and restore their sense of self.
What are the steps to healing from DPD?
Whether you’re facing DPD yourself or you know someone else struggling with it, these tips can help you move forward.
The key to healing from dependent personality disorder lies in identifying yourself first and foremost as a person who is capable of achieving their goals with or without the help of others.
- The first step to healing from DPD is learning about it and realizing you have it. Self-awareness is the first step and you should be compiling a list of everything you do now that can be replaced with more positive behaviors.
- The second step is understanding how the disorder has affected your life and how to make all those broken promises come true. Reaching out to others is important, but don’t let this become a crutch you lean on when you should be solving your problems on your own.
- The third step is working on improving your relationships, which is one of the most difficult parts of recovering but also one of the most important. Remember that you’re a strong and capable person who can help yourself just as much as you can be helped by someone else – even yourself.
Dependent Personality Disorder Resources
- WebMD – Dependendent Personality DIsorder Information
- Cleveland Clinic – Dependent Personality Disorder Info & Resources
- Study by Dependent Personality Disorder Expert Robert F. Bornstein, PhD
- Treatment for Dependent Personality Disorder
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