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Some medications may also react strongly to alcohol so be sure to follow medical advice carefully. Smoking is also a high-risk behavior, with research finding that There is not currently one single medication that would work for everyone suffering from DPD. In fact, there are no FDA-approved medications for any personality disorder. Factors such as other mental health conditions will need to be taken into consideration and are often the aspect that a doctor will focus on treating. Equally, those who have anxiety or psychotic symptoms may be treated for those problems with the relevant medication.

Drugs such as antidepressants, tranquilizers, mood stabilizers, and sedatives are commonly prescribed for DPD. As well as seeking psychotherapy and medical treatment, there are several recommended methods that people with DPD can carry out themselves. Always seek medical advice before trying any home remedy. Many people suffering from mental health problems in general have found exercise helpful, particularly exercise that focuses on the mind as well as the body, such as yoga.

Swimming, running and walking are often recommended as ways to help relieve depression and anxiety. Gardening is an excellent alternative to more tradition exercise, as it is still an active activity and also encourages a more outdoor lifestyle. Meditation, mindfulness, and aromatherapy can also be useful tools and are especially good for those who suffer from anxiety. Many places now offer short courses or classes in these areas and there are plenty of online resources available, including video tutorials. Some psychologists recommend writing and self-reflection as an important tool for people with DPD.

They believe that writing about your childhood experiences can allow you to analyze incidents from a new, more mature, perspective. It is recommended that you talk to a therapist or doctor before trying this particular method. Take time to learn about DPD and to attend therapy sessions and other medical appointments. Remember to take medication when prescribed and to follow the advice of medical professionals.

Creating an action plan could be an effective way to help manage the more severe behaviors caused by the disorder. For example, having an action plan in place in case of a desire to self-harm could be a good way to reduce the risk of actual self-harm. An action plan can also be used as a daily preventative tool, by listing individual steps and tasks to carry out, with a goal of managing and minimizing symptoms long-term. Work with a doctor or therapist to create an action plan for use at home. Some people use alternative and complementary medicines to manage DPD, such as herbal supplements, teas and flower infusions.

Although there is no scientific consensus on the effectiveness of herbal or alternative medication, many people report benefits from using such treatments. Doctor Philip Muskin, author of Complementary and Integrative Treatments in Psychiatric Practice, says that complementary and alternative medicine has a lot to offer when it comes to dealing with stress from personality disorders.

Finding a supportive doctor is the most important step as a good doctor can be key to getting all the help needed, both medically and emotionally. Ask your doctor to recommend an experienced therapist who has the best therapeutic treatment method for your symptoms. As well as finding the right medical help, having a good support network is also essential when living with DPD. Insurance providers have individual policies when it comes to personality disorders. Speak to your provider to find out exactly what medications and treatments are covered and ask for a copy of their policy. Ask your doctor, therapist or a trusted organization to help you with this, if needed.

Most LMHPs have websites and social media where you can find reviews and learn about the experiences of other patients. However, psychotherapy is the most commonly recommended type of therapy for DPD and other personality disorders. To find a local psychotherapy practitioner, contact local or state psychological association.

You may have personal questions that you want to ask but there are some general questions you may want to ask. For example, ask if a therapist has treated people with DPD or other personality disorders previously and what sort of therapy they normally provide for that condition.

Feel free to ask about their educational background and training, as well as how long they have been at their current practice. Please log in again. The login page will open in a new tab. After logging in you can close it and return to this page. What Is Dependent Personality Disorder? For a person to be diagnosed with dependent personality disorder, at least five of the eight symptoms described above must be the present, and these symptoms must begin by early adulthood and be evident in a variety of contexts.

The diagnosis of dependent personality disorder must be distinguished from borderline personality disorder , as there are common characteristics. Borderline personality disorder is characterized by fear of abandonment, as well, but with feelings of emptiness and rage. In contrast, the dependent personality responds to this fear of abandonment with submissiveness, and searches for a replacement relationship to maintain dependency.

Likewise, persons with histrionic personality disorder have a strong need for reassurance and approval, and may appear childlike in their clinging behavior. Histrionics are characterized by a gregarious demeanor and make active demands for attention, whereas dependents respond with docile and self-deprecating behavior. The avoidant personality disorder can also be confused with dependent personality disorder. Both are characterized by feelings of inadequacy, an oversensitivity to criticism, and a frequent need for assurance.

What Is Dependent Personality Disorder? - Depression Alliance

However, patients with avoidant personality disorder typically have such an intense fear of rejection that they will instinctively withdraw until they are certain of acceptance. People with dependent personality disorder, in contrast, actually seek out contact with others because they need the approval of others. The general goal of treatment of dependent personality disorder is to increase the individual's sense of autonomy and ability to function independently. A long-term approach to psychodynamic treatment can be successful, but may lead to heightened dependencies and difficult separation in the therapeutic relationship over time.

The preferred approach is a time-limited treatment plan consisting of a predetermined number of sessions. This has been proved to facilitate the exploration process of dependency issues more effectively than long-term therapy in most patients. Cognitive-behavioral approaches attempt to increase the affected person's ability to act independently of others, improve their self-esteem, and enhance the quality of their interpersonal relationships.

Often, patients will play an active role in setting goals. Methods often used in cognitive-behavioral therapy CBT include assertiveness and social skills training to help reduce reliance on others, including the therapist. Treatment using an interpersonal approach can be useful because the individual is usually receptive to treatment and seeks help with interpersonal relationships. The therapist would help the patient explore their long-standing patterns of interacting with others, and understand how these have contributed to dependency issues.

The goal is to show the patient the high price they pay for this dependency, and to help them develop healthier alternatives.

Assertiveness training and learning to identify feelings is often used to improve interpersonal behavior. Time-limited assertiveness-training groups with clearly defined goals have been proven to be effective. Individuals with dependent personality disorder are usually brought to therapy by their parents. They are often young adults who are struggling with neurotic or psychotic symptoms. The goal of family therapy is often to untangle the enmeshed family relationships, which usually elicits considerable resistance by most family members unless all are in therapy.

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Marital therapy can be productive in helping couples reduce the anxiety of both partners who seek and meet dependency needs that arise in the relationship. Individuals with dependent personality disorder can experience anxiety and depressive disorders as well. In these cases, it may occasionally prove useful to use antidepressants or anti-anxiety agents. Unless the anxiety or depression is considered worthy of a primary diagnosis, medications are generally not recommended for treatment of the dependency issues or the anxiety or depressive responses.

Persons with dependent personality disorder may become overly dependent on any medication used. The general prognosis for individuals with dependent personality disorder is good.


Most people with this disorder have had a supportive relationship with at least one parent. This enables them to engage in treatment to varying degrees and to explore the source of their dependent behavior. If persons who enter treatment can learn to become more autonomous, improved functioning can be expected. Since dependent personality disorder originates in the patient's family, the only known preventive measure is a nurturing, emotionally stimulating, and expressive caregiving environment.

American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Beers, Mark H. The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy.

Dependent personality disorder traits

Millon, Theodore, Ph. Sperry, Len, M. International Society for the Study of Personality Disorders. Journal of Personality Disorders. Guilford Publications, 72 Spring St. Toggle navigation.

Dependent Personality Disorder

Photo by: Paul Laroque. Definition Dependent personality disorder is characterized by an excessive need to be taken care of or depend upon others. Description Persons with dependent personality disorder are docile, passive, and nonassertive. Causes and symptoms Causes It is commonly thought that the development of dependence in these individuals is a result of over-involvement and intrusive behavior by their primary caretakers. Individuals with this disorder: Have difficulty making common decisions. These individuals typically need an excessive amount of advice and reassurance before they can make even simple decisions, such as the clothing to wear on a given day.

Need others to assume responsibility for them. Because they view themselves as incapable of being autonomous, they withdraw from adult responsibilities by acting passive and helpless. They allow others to take the initiative for many areas of their life. Adults with this disorder typically depend on a parent or spouse to make major decisions for them, such as where to work, to live, or with whom to be friends. Have difficulty expressing disagreement with others. Disagreeing with others is often viewed as too risky.

It might sever the support or approval of those they upon whom they depend. They are often overly agreeable, as they fear alienating other people. Have difficulty initiating or doing things on their own. They lack self-confidence and believe they need help to begin or sustain tasks.