Overcoming Dependent Personality Disorder – Treatment and Prognosis

Of all the personality disorders, mental health clinics treat more cases of dependent personality disorder than any other, according to Marquette University. Characterized by a need to seek approval, acceptance and validation from others, people suffering from dependent personality disorder typically go out of their way to please most anyone and everyone.

As with any personality disorder, dependent types exhibit an ongoing pattern of behavior regardless of the consequences of their actions. Treatment for dependent personality disorder requires psychotherapy, group work and medication treatment, when necessary. For people receiving needed treatment, the prognosis for dependent personality disorder is good.

Dependent Personality Disorder

personality disorder treatment

Counseling can help you overcome the symptoms of DPD!

Symptoms of dependent personality disorder generally start to appear around early adulthood. Someone affected by this condition has an overall submissive demeanor, tends to be clingy in relationships and has an overwhelming need to be taken care of.

It’s not uncommon for people with dependent personality disorder to minimize their strengths to the point of demeaning themselves in the presence of others. In order for a person to be diagnosed with this condition, he or she must meet at least five of the following eight criteria:

  • Difficulty making everyday decisions on his or her own
  • Lets others make major life decisions on his or her behalf
  • Will agree to anything out of fear of disapproval
  • Considerable lack of self-confidence
  • Will endure unpleasant circumstances for the sake of another
  • Averse to living alone
  • Must always be in a relationship
  • Fear of abandonment


Helping a person develop a sense of autonomy becomes the overall goal in treating dependent personality disorder. Psychotherapy approaches tend to work well in helping identify destructive behavior patterns and learning healthy interpersonal skills.

Therapies commonly used to treat dependent personality include –

  • Interpersonal therapy – helps a person understand how dependent behavior patterns have damaged his or her quality of life.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy – helps a person identify the destructive thinking patterns that drive dependent behaviors.
  • Group therapy – works well in cases where a person is highly motivated to get well. In the process, he or she can work on interpersonal skills within the context of the group.

Psychotherapy approaches also help individuals develop assertiveness skills while building self-confidence along the way.

As people affected by dependent personality often develop depression and/or anxiety disorders, medication treatments may be warranted to help relieve depression/anxiety symptoms.


As people affected by dependent personality disorder can form relationships, have trusting dispositions and easily enter into commitments, the overall prognosis is favorable. Through ongoing psychotherapy, a person learns to use these strengths in constructive ways rather than relinquishing his or autonomy to others.

While medication therapy may be of benefit when depression or anxiety disorders are an issue, a person can just as easily become dependent on the medication. Under these conditions, a depression or anxiety disorder would have to be the primary diagnosis in order for medication treatment to be warranted.

Overall, treatment for dependent personality can take anywhere from months to years depending on the severity of the disorder.


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