Dependent personality disorder is a psychiatric condition marked by extremely low self-esteem and an excessive dependence on others. Living with dependent personality disorder can be challenging, not only for the person with the disorder, but for his family and friends as well.
Coping with Dependent Personality Disorder
Without professional treatment, coping with dependent personality disorder can be very difficult. In many cases, the person with the dependent personality may not even realize she has a problem. Even if she does recognize a problem, she is unlikely to take steps to resolve it on her own because people with this disorder rely so heavily on others for guidance and support.
Untreated dependent personality disorder can lead to a host of other health problems. For example, dependent personality disorder and depression often go hand-in-hand. People with this disorder are also prone to anxiety disorders, phobias and substance abuse. It’s important for friends and family to recognize the symptoms of dependent personality disorder and urge the person to seek help.
Dependent Personality Disorder and Relationships
Being in a relationship with someone who has dependent personality disorder can be difficult. People with dependent personalities are often described as needy or clingy. They often need help with the simplest decisions, such as what clothes to wear. Passive behavior is common, and a person with this disorder tends to rely on others, such as a spouse, to take responsibility for most areas of his life.
If you’re in a relationship with a person who has a dependent personality, you may notice that this person hardly ever disagrees with you. Someone with dependent personality disorder often doesn’t voice dissenting opinions because she is afraid of losing your approval. She is so terrified of being alone that she’ll often go along with whatever you say, even if she doesn’t agree. Some people with this disorder will even tolerate abuse or cruelty in order to avoid being alone.
When you end a relationship with a person who has this disorder, he may jump straight into another relationship soon after yours dissolves. This doesn’t mean that your relationship meant nothing to him; he was likely devastated by the end of the relationship. But the fear of being alone is so overwhelming for people with dependent personality disorder that they’ll often form a new dependent relationship very quickly after a previous one ends.
Dependent Personality Disorder Support
Dependent personality disorder support groups are available, but their effectiveness is questionable. While some personality disorders improve with group therapy, people with dependent personalities risk forming new dependent relationships with the other people in the group. Short-term psychotherapy for a specific problem is the most effective treatment for dependent personality disorder. Family therapy or marital therapy may also be helpful in addressing relationship dynamics that contribute to dependent personality disorder.
Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders. (2010). Dependent personality disorder. Retrieved August 17, 2010, from http://www.minddisorders.com/Del-Fi/Dependent-personality-disorder.html
Psychology Today. (2008). Dependent personality disorder. Retrieved August 17, 2010, from http://www.psychologytoday.com/conditions/dependent-personality-disorder
The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. (2009). Dependent personality disorder. Retrieved August 17, 2010, from http://my.clevelandclinic.org/disorders/personality_disorders/hic_dependent_personality_disorder.aspx