Dependent personality disorder is a mental disorder which creates a situation in which an individual feels the need to be protected by others and is so worried and scared of losing the important persons in his/her life in the case of separation. This makes the affected person so close to others that he/she wants to be with them at all times. The affected person depends on others to make decisions and is faced with a lot of problems making daily decisions all by themselves including the easiest decisions such as what clothes to wear or what to take along when going somewhere.
Both men and women are equally exposed to this disorder but it mostly affects them at early and sometimes middle adulthood. However, a large number of those who have been diagnosed with dependent personality disorder are women. Adults that suffer from this disorder rely on their parents and if married, they depend on their partner to make important decisions in their lives.
Dependant personally disorder is caused by genetic factors. Other factors include emotional and developmental behaviors. Overprotective parents can also cause the development of this disorder in their children. Overinvolvement of caretakers in children can cause the development of this disorder where children are not given the opportunity to do simple duties by themselves such as dressing, going to school alone and feeding themselves.
Symptoms of dependent personality disorder
They tend to be inactive and always let other people and in most cases, a particular person to take responsibility for them. They generally lack self confidence and esteem and they always have a low opinion of themselves. Because of the fear to lose the people that they depend on, individuals with this disorder are often unable to differ with others and they end up giving support on things that they believe are not right. Persons suffering from this disorder are always at no ease whenever they are alone for fear of being unable to take care of themselves. They can be influenced easily and most people use this opportunity to abuse and exploit them since they can do anything as long as it pleases their friends who take care of them (Millon, 1996, p. 62).
In case a relationship breaks up, they look for another relationship to replace the previous one in great desperation. Affected people have the behavior of dodging their responsibilities especially those that require them to perform the duties without help. People suffering from dependent personality disorder get upset easily when they are criticized or not recommended to carry out a certain task. Due to fear of being forsaken, they tend to prioritize the needs of those who take care of them. They are naïve and are always fantasizing about things they wish they could achieve in life (Millon, 1996, p. 1). Another very common feature of this personality disorder is inability to start up a job such as a business plan due to the fear of failing.
Diagnosis of dependent personality disorder
For dependent personality disorder to be diagnosed, one should put into consideration the cultural and age factors facing the suspected person. This is because some cultures require obedience and respect towards the opposite sex, elders or people holding high positions in the society. If the person in question shows all these behaviors and are completely out of his/her cultural beliefs, the dependent personality disorder can be diagnosed. The diagnosis should also involve a clinical discussion to evaluate the symptoms of this disorder. Some tests to confirm the disorder should also be carried out.
For a diagnosis of dependent personality disorder to be made, at least five symptoms since early adulthood associated with the disorder must be identified. The diagnosis of dependent personality disorder should not be confused with other personality disorders such as avoidant and borderline personality disorders which may have similar characteristics. Diagnosis of all personality disorders should be done in persons with eighteen years and over. The intensity of dependent personality disorder decreases as effected people age (Millon, 1996, p. 29).
Treatment of dependent personality disorder
There are no treatments that can specifically treat this disorder. The main idea in treating dependent personality disorder is to help individuals develop intelligence in order to be independent in their lives and enable them to be active in various activities in the society. Continued psychological therapy is recommended to help individuals make important decisions in their life independent of others as well as engaging in healthy relationships.
However, long time therapy should be avoided to prevent reliance on the therapist. In case of other conditions associated with dependent personality disorder such as depression and anxiety, medical help is also necessary though it should be regulated as well to prevent abuse of the drugs. Support from family members and friends are equally important in providing motivation to people suffering from this disorder (Millon, 1996, p. 17). It also gives them the chance to examine the possible causes of their dependant behavior.
Patients with dependent personality disorders always have high demands on promises and attention, it is therefore important for the therapist to give his/her patient a clear explanation on how the treatment will be conducted and its progress as well. Psychotherapy should involve examination of the patient’s faulty emotions such as self esteem. Group therapy is also recommended to improve their self confidence since they interact with other people with the same characteristics and behavior and thus they do not feel inferior. However, care should be taken to prevent development of new dependent relationships or even enhancement of already existing ones among patients (Gilles, 2010, p. 1).
Complications of dependent personality disorder
Certain characteristics in people with dependent personality disorder can put them at the risk of having other health and mental complications such as nervousness, phobia due to fear and depression disorders. Another very possible and dangerous complication is abuse of drugs especially those that are prescribed to help control depression and anxiety in people with this disorder. People with dependent personality disorder are also faced with the risk of abuse from other people especially their friends who they depend on since they are ready to do just everything to keep their relationships intact (Croft, 2010, p. 1). People with dependent personal disorder are unable to function independently in occupational set ups and this may cause them problems with employers to the point of getting fired.
Dependent personality disorder is a very serious mental illness being the most diagnosed of all mental disorders. It can largely affect one’s life and therefore should not be taken lightly. As soon as symptoms start appearing, it is advisable to seek professional help especially from a therapist early before it gets complicated. Parents should also learn to allow their children to learn certain activities and duties when they are still young including such simple tasks as dressing, feeding and going to school all by themselves. This way, they will grow up independent of their parents and will be able to make decisions concerning their lives on their own.
Croft, H. (2010). Dependent Personality Disorder. Web.
Gilles, G. (2010). Dependent Personality Disorder. Web.
Millon, T. (1996). Disorders of Personality: DSM IV and Beyond. New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc.