Hey there Psych2Goers, this is a disclaimer that this article is for informative purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or treat any condition. Please reach out to a qualified mental health professional if you are struggling.
Sometimes we all need a little bit of reassurance in our lives. Perhaps you’re about to make a really big, life changing decision that you need others to weigh in on, or maybe you’re insecure about what direction you want to go. We cannot live life alone, but what happens when we rely too much on others to help us out? To better understand what Dependent Personality Disorder is, in this article, we’ll look at some of the most common signs.
What is Dependent Personality Disorder?
Dependent Personality Disorder (DPD) is a cluster C personality disorder characterized by a fear of being alone, an inability to make decisions for oneself, and excessively seeking the approval of others in most tasks. It is a cluster C personality disorder, which is known as the cluster characterized by anxious behaviors (Mayo Clinic 2016). People with DPD are often incredibly fearful and have little confidence in themselves. There are a variety of different causes for this disorder, but often times genetics and life experiences in childhood increase the risk of developing this condition (WebMD 2006).
It is important to note that DPD has many traits that align with other disorders, especially other personality disorders and anxiety disorders. In order to be diagnosed, you must speak with a qualified mental health professional who can discern the differences between this disorder and a similar one.
With that, here are some signs:
You Find It Extremely Difficult to be Alone
Perhaps the biggest sign of DPD is an intense fear of being alone. You may find that you avoid abandonment and rejection at all costs, even to your own wellbeing. People with DPD may overlook their own boundaries to appease the person they’re dependent on to avoid being left alone (Kahn 2018). In other scenarios, you may find yourself completely lost when alone and desperately are waiting for the other person to come back. It’s common for people with DPD to feel that they have no sense of identity apart from their partner, friend, or relative and will become intensely anxious when they are absent (Smith 2022). This other person fulfills their needs and the person with DPD will feel directionless without them.
You Rely on Others to Make the Decisions in Your Life
Submissiveness is another key sign of DPD. People with this disorder will find themselves incapable of making their own decisions in anything. Whether it’s a big life change or something small like picking out dinner, people with DPD will often need to go through someone else to make sure that they’re on the right path (Smith 2022). Work may be difficult for a person with DPD as they are unable to complete tasks on their own, even if they are perfectly skilled to do so. This dependency can be extremely taxing on relationships and wear on the people they depend on. Additionally, people with DPD may be vulnerable to abuse in relationships, especially if they are with someone that takes advantage of their disorder and tendencies (Smith 2022).
You Do Things to Win Other People’s Approval
People with DPD often have a low self-esteem coupled with a fear of abandonment, being alone, and rejection. One of the ways people with this disorder will try to avoid this is by people pleasing. This can come at the expense of their own wellbeing as they may partake in activities that go against what they would normally do in order to avoid rejection (WebMD 2006). They disregard barriers and put themselves in uncomfortable positions so that it ensures that they will be accepted. You may find yourself bending over backwards to please other people, no matter the cost.
You Are Highly Sensitive to Criticism
Another sign of DPD is being sensitive to criticism (WebMD 2006). People with this disorder are often deeply afraid of rejection, so hearing someone speak out against them can be incredibly painful and give them the impression that the other person is going to leave. People with DPD will try to avoid this before it happens with their submissive and approval seeking behaviors and will find it extraordinary difficult to react when someone critiques their ways.
You Need a Lot of Reassurance
People with DPD will often rely heavily on another person to fulfill their needs and make their decisions. Because they find it difficult to do these things themselves, they look to other people to validate them and provide them with reassurance. You may find yourself unable to make any kind of decision without going through another person and having them give input on what you do. This dependency can be so difficult for people with DPD and their romantic partners that relationships will end (Smith 2022). The person with DPD will often get into another relationship quickly to avoid the overarching fear of being alone (PsychologyToday 2022).
You Find It Difficult to Start Things on Your Own
Another big sign of DPD is having an inability to take initiative. You may find that you cannot start projects on your own as you need to go through another person first. If you’re left by yourself, you may notice that you are overwhelmed and struggle to find where to start. People close to those with DPD will often need to be present in helping with these decisions, putting a strain on their relationships (PsychologyToday 2022). The dependency is a necessity and people struggling with the disorder find themselves unable to operate on their own terms.
While we all depend on one another for survival, there comes a point when this need is too much. DPD is difficult to live with and can greatly reduce your quality of life. However, it is important to know that it is possible to get help. DPD is highly treatable, so getting in contact with the right mental health professional is often a great first step to getting your life on track. Let us know what your thoughts about this topic are in the comments below!
- Cleveland Clinic. (2020, November 30). Dependent Personality Disorder: Definition, Symptoms, Treatment. my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9783-dependent-personality-disorder
- Kahn, A. (2018, September 29). Dependent Personality Disorder (DPD). Healthline. www.healthline.com/health/dependent-personality-disorder#diagnosis
- Mayo Clinic. (2016, September 23). Personality disorders – Symptoms and causes. www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/personality-disorders/symptoms-causes/syc-20354463
- PsychologyToday Staff. (2022, January 19). Dependent Personality Disorder. PsychologyToday. www.psychologytoday.com/us/conditions/dependent-personality-disorder
- Smith, A. (2022, March 7). 3 Major Signs of Dependent Personality Disorder. PsychologyToday. www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/and-running/202203/3-major-signs-dependent-personality-disorder
- WebMD. (2006, February 2). Dependent Personality Disorder. www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/guide/dependent-personality-disorder