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What is Dependent Personality Disorder?

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Dependent personality disorder (DPD) is a mental health condition where one develops intense feelings of helplessness, anxiety and passivity. Most of these individuals feel a great need to be taken care of, can never make any decisions and need constant reassurance.

DPD is a very common disorder and is said to occur in three to five percent of individuals. The incidence is equal in both genders and it often peaks after the second decade of life. Individuals with DPD gradually become emotionally dependent on others and spend an inordinate amount of time trying to please others. These people are best described as being very needy, passive, having clinging behavior and have an intense fear of being separated.

At work, DPD individuals usually avoid all jobs that require personal responsibility and are overly sensitive to criticism. When a relationship ends, the individuals feel a tremendous sense of helplessness and usually move into another relationship immediately. Because they fear losing support, these individuals rarely criticize others even when they are abused. The two distinct features about DPD are that these individuals always place the needs of others above their own and tend to be very naïve (or stupid).

No one knows what causes DPD and some experts believe that it may be due to a strict or an overprotective parenting style. Many of these people are diagnosed late, as they never seek help. Many come to attention after they have suffered emotional or physical abuse at the hands of their mental caregiver.

DPD is very difficult to treat. Psychotherapy is offered to help individuals become independent, assertive and develop healthy relationships. Often the individual with DPD develops dependence on the therapist. Individuals who suffer from depression or anxiety are prescribed medications but often these people start to abuse these drugs.

The prognosis of individuals with DPD depends on the intensity of their mal-behavior. Mild cases can be helped with psychotherapy but most severe cases are at a great risk for developing depression, anxiety and panic disorders. The majority of these individuals are at a high risk of being abused in relationships, as they are willing to do almost anything for mental support. Many of these individuals are often physically harmed and yet stay in the relationship because of the fear of losing their caregiver.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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