What is dependent personality disorder (DPD)?

Dependent personality disorder (DPD) is described as theneed to be cared for by others. This condition results in submissive and clingy behavior, a fear of separation, and difficulty making decisions without reassurance from others.

DPD appears to occur equally among males and females, and usually first appears in early-to-middle adulthood.

What causes dependent personality disorder (DPD)?

Dependent personality disorder may be caused by a combination of biological and developmental factors. People exposed to authoritarian or overprotective parenting styles, chronic physical illness, or separation anxiety during childhood may be more likely to develop dependent personality traits.

What are the symptoms of dependent personality disorder (DPD)?

Symptoms of dependent personality disorder include:

  • An inability to make common, everyday decisions without the reassurance of others
  • Avoidance of personal responsibility, including tasks requiring independent functioning
  • An intense fear of abandonment and a sense of devastation or helplessness when relationships end, and a tendency to quickly seek out and begin new relationships
  • Difficulty being alone
  • Avoidance of disagreement with others out of fear of losing support or approval
  • Willingness to tolerate mistreatment and abuse from others
  • Placing the needs of their caregivers above their own
  • Over-sensitivity to criticism
  • Pessimism and lack of self-confidence, including a belief that they are unable to care for themselves
  • Difficulty beginning projects

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/30/2017.


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  • NHS Choices. Personality Disorders Accessed 4/17/2017.
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  • Beck, A., Freeman, A., Davis, D. (2007). Cognitive Therapy of Personality Disorders, Second Edition. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.
  • Young JQ. (2008). Behavioral Medicine: A Guide for Clinical Practice Third Edition. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

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