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Dependency Personality Disorder: what is it?

Dependency Personality Disorder: what is it?

February 5, 2024

Many times, mental disorders do not have to do with hallucinations or with the inability to perceive certain things or to do certain actions, but rather they are expressed through our social relationships and the way in which we live them.

This is the case of the Personality Disorder by Dependence , also known as Personality Dependent Disorder. If we had to explain in one sentence what it consists of, the explanation would be the following: the habit of transforming our social relationships into straps that bind us and totally limit our freedom. It is based on the fear of being abandoned by others.

Next we will see what are the characteristics, symptoms, causes and treatments associated with this disorder.

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What is Personality Dependent Disorder?

This is a mental disorder characterized by pathological need to maintain close personal relationships that provide protection and care to those who suffer it. In practice, this translates into adopting habits and attitudes related to submission and extreme dependence.

It is a personality disorder that, according to the diagnostic criteria of the DSM IV manual, belongs to group C, anxious or fearful disorders. This is a category that shares with Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder and Personality Disorder by Avoidance.

Regarding its epidemiology, it is believed that this disorder affects approximately 0.5% of the population and that is more frequent in women than in men.

Your symptoms

The main symptoms of Personality Disorder by Dependency are the following.

Fear to loneliness

People who have this disorder they fear being defenseless and in a situation of vulnerability in which they need help and can not obtain it. That makes them undertake desperate initiatives in order to anticipate the isolation, even if that makes them run the risk of breaking with certain social conventions (which would further away from their goal).

Low self-esteem

Constant dependence on others makes that the self-esteem of these people is very damaged . This makes them look for "complete" thanks to the presence of other people, since they feel that alone can not face life.

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Extreme indecision

People with Personality Disorder by Dependence adopt an extremely passive attitude and avoid having to make decisions, even if they are banal and of little importance. They always try to make others decide.

Pessimism about their own abilities

These individuals tend to believe that they are unable to perform the most basic actions and that they will fail in any proposed project; that is why they need to be in contact with someone whose side it is possible to survive.

Constant search for relationships

How I know need protection in an uninterrupted way , these people are always looking for new relationships when the previous ones are broken. The time spent without counting on someone's protection is seen as a danger, something that may involve receiving damages or reaching situations in which one's integrity is compromised.

Very low assertiveness

To people with this personality disorder It is very difficult to show disagreement with certain ideas, norms or opinions.

Constant need for the protection of others

It always looks the presence of someone with whom it is possible to have as a protective agent.

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It is estimated that it is a disorder with high heritability (around 80% of the variance). However, it is well known which part of this heritability is due more to genetics and which has to do with the environments shared with fathers and mothers.

In any case, the person who detects the cases of Personality Disorder by Dependency must be a mental health professional, and the diagnosis must run entirely under his charge.

Subtypes of Personality Disorder by Dependence

A classification with different subtypes of Personality Disorder by Dependence has been proposed, to take into account the symptoms in a more detailed way . They are the following.


People who "abandon themselves" entirely to the other person and forget their interests beyond the need for protection and guidance. It has masochistic features.


It is characterized by a fear of facing any kind of problem and by extreme passivity.


A clearly anxious profile that structures his life around submission to another person.He is docile, complacent and dedicated.


With characteristics linked to innocence and children, fundamentally stands out for the credulity and incompetence when performing simple tasks for the adult standard.


A profile that expresses distrust and constant fear, avoids any type of problem and avoids the relationship with people who are not "the protective figure".


Dependency Personality Disorder is based on very persistent mental and behavioral habits that remain present throughout the time, and it is very complicated to make your symptoms subside.

In this sense, cognitive behavioral therapy can be effective to improve self-esteem and to combat the symptoms of depression , a disorder that is often associated with this. In addition, through this form of psychotherapy is trained in social skills and routines to combat anxiety and fear.

On the other hand, the use of psychotropic drugs It is usually oriented to intervene on the symptoms derived from anxiety and depression, although always with a medical prescription and with an exhaustive monitoring.

  • Related article: "Psychotropic drugs: drugs that act on the brain"

Dependent Personality Disorder ¦ Treatment and Symptoms (February 2024).

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