• Dependent Personality Disorder


    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 (inherited) factors and a person's environment.
    The Central Nervous System
    Brain face skull
    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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    Risk Factors

    A risk factor is something that increases your chance of acquiring a disease or condition.
    Factors that increase the risk of dependent personality disorder include:


    Symptoms of dependent personality disorder may include:
    • Anxiety
    • 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


    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.


    Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment 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.


    In some cases, medications, such as tricyclic antidepressants, monoamine oxidase inhibitors, or alprazolam, may help manage symptoms. For most patients, medications only provide a minimal amount of symptom relief.

    Other Treatments

    Other treatments, such as group therapy and social skills training, can help you manage symptoms.


    There is no known way to prevent dependent personality disorder.


    Mental Health America http://www.nmha.org

    National Institute of Mental Health http://www.nimh.nih.gov


    Canadian Mental Health Association http://www.cmha.ca

    Canadian Psychiatric Association http://www.cpa-apc.org


    Bornstein RF. From dysfunction to adaptation: an interactionist model of dependency. Annu Rev Clin Psychol . 2012;8:291-316.

    Dependent personality disorder. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed . Accessed December 15, 2011. Updated October 11, 2012.

    Personality disorders. Mental Health America website. Available at: http://www.nmha.org/index.cfm?objectId=C7DF8E96-1372-4D20-C87D9CD4FB6BE82F . Accessed October 11 ,2012.

    Revision Information

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