Dependent Personality Disorder: Symptoms, Causes And Treatment.

Having someone who is attentive to our needs can be a luxury but… what if it is excessive? Read this article to find out what TPD is.

Dependent personality disorder: Symptoms, causes and treatment.

We all know someone who usually gives more for others and who, at times, are excessively helpful. Living depending on others, their opinions and their desires can lead the person to forget about their real desires. When this becomes excessive, it usually generates many problems in their environment as they become dependent people incapable of being alone and taking care of themselves.

It is estimated that approximately 0.49% of the general population suffers from dependent personality disorder, which is normally more common in women than in men. However, it is believed that this difference is mainly due to the culture that is transmitted in most societies since in recent decades, with the incorporation of women into the labor market, a decrease in this type of behavior has been seen. in the feminine gender.

What is dependent personality disorder?

He dependent personality disorder (or TPD), like other personality disorders, is usually characterized because the symptoms follow a stable pattern over time and, normally, people who suffer from it are not aware that their behaviors, thoughts and emotions cause discomfort. themselves and/or others.

Specifically, dependent personality disorder is different from other personality disorders because people who suffer from it tend to behave in ways childish That is, his behavior is somewhat childish and innocent. They are quite insecure people and underestimate their abilities both to make decisions and to take care of themselves, a fact that leads them to have an irrational fear of abandonment. It is for this reason that they present a dependence For others, it is excessive and not appropriate for their age.

You may be interested:  Neuropsychological Rehabilitation: What Does This Therapy Consist Of?

Symptoms of dependent personality disorder:

According to the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), to establish a diagnosis of this personality disorder the person must be at least 18 years old since dependent behavior before that age can be part of normal evolutionary development. Specifically, according to this manual, at least 5 of the following symptoms must be met and must occur in different contexts:

  1. Decision-making difficulties: They usually feel incompetent to make decisions in any area of ​​their life, so they feel that they need others to make decisions in the main aspects of their life or they need excessive reassurance from the people around them.
  2. Excessive need for others to assume responsibilities: They usually have various problems if they have to occupy jobs that require a lot of responsibility. They experience a great feeling of discomfort when they have to assume obligations, especially when these are going to be evaluated by others, which is why they prefer positions that involve obeying rather than directing.
  3. Inability to express disagreement: They are people who do not usually express their opinion, they are excessively conformist with everything that concerns others. In fact, they are capable of putting up with something that bothers them deeply so as not to contradict others and when they get angry they usually do not show it for fear that this will lead to the breakdown of the relationship.
  4. Complications to start projects and/or ideas: Normally, starting projects causes them great discomfort, not because of a lack of motivation but because of the fear of ending up very tired since making decisions causes them great anxiety and discomfort.
  5. Submissive attitudes: They tend to have submissive behaviors and the fact that they feel fear of abandonment along with the feeling of inability to care for themselves leads them not to express their opinions or feelings. In fact, they can suffer both physical and psychological abuse from those on whom they depend.
  6. Constant need to be accompanied and/or in a relationship: They present a behavioral tendency marked by servility, that is, by trying to please and predict all the needs of the people around them. They think that if they don’t find anyone to love them they will always be unhappy and unable to take care of themselves.
  7. Fear of abandonment and loneliness: They have an excessive fear of being abandoned, even when there is no indication of it. A breakup is usually one of the worst things that could happen to them. In fact, this fear also occurs when they are left alone somewhere since they feel that they always need the help of others to prevent something bad from happening to them.
You may be interested:  Psychological Techniques to Combat Anxiety and Relax Our Mind and Body


In the case of personality disorders, no clear evidence has been found of how biological factors intervene in their development. It has been found that there are certain environmental factors that can influence the appearance of dependent personality disorder. Specifically, they are:

  • Parental overprotection: A parenting style characterized mainly by overprotection, in which the boy or girl receives excessive care, can prevent the minor from developing certain abilities to function autonomously. That is why in adulthood they are excessively dependent both physically and psychologically.
  • Lack of motivation to compete during childhood and adolescence: The fact of avoiding problems during childhood and adolescence, together with a lack of motivation to compete, means that the person does not learn to resolve and manage conflicts. In the long run it can have negative effects on the subject since it can cause feelings of inferiority and indecision that, maintained over time, can lead to the person learning that it is better to be passive and submissive.
  • Monitoring social roles: Sometimes, we are not aware of how roles influence our behavior, but social expectations impact how we act, feel and think. The fact that there are more women with TPD than men is largely due to the cultural pattern that is transmitted in most societies. Specifically, among women, more dependent and passive behaviors are usually reinforced, while in men those that are related to autonomy are reinforced.

Treatment: Can personality disorder be cured?

As I have previously mentioned, personality disorders are characterized because they tend to be stable over time, but that does not mean that improvement cannot be obtained through psychological therapy. Specifically, in the case of this disorder, the treatment that has proven to be most effective is based on the following aspects:

  • Increased self-esteem: It is carried out mainly through techniques such as cognitive restructuring and training in self-verbalization to face different situations.
  • Develop the capacity for autonomy: The development of independence and autonomy is essential for the improvement of TPD. To achieve this, techniques such as the development of self-control strategies, problem-solving training, etc. are used.
  • Prevention of possible relapses: This aspect focuses on training the person to identify those situations that may pose a risk as well as practice coping responses.
You may be interested:  What is Asperger's Syndrome? 9 Psychological Characteristics to Identify it

Sometimes, we can feel guilty for not having certain management tools or for not being a certain way. It is important to know how to differentiate those aspects that we can improve ourselves from those that cause us great discomfort and prevent us from carrying out those activities that we would like to carry out. In the latter case, it is important that when this happens, we seek help to be able to learn tools to manage those situations that cause us discomfort. We all have both positive and negative aspects and we should not feel guilty for being a certain way since that will only lead us to feel worse about ourselves and, therefore, not be able to analyze possible solutions.