Learn more about statistics, prevalence and treatment options for dependent personality disorder.

Dependent personality disorder is a condition in which an individual is in perpetual fear of abandonment. People dealing with dependent personality disorder struggle with an excessive need to be taken care of by others. The condition results in clingy and submissive behaviors that can be quite debilitating to their well-being and interpersonal relationships.

Prevalence of Dependent Personality Disorder

Out of the less than 1% of the population with a dependent personality disorder, the most severe symptoms of the condition are usually resolved by middle adulthood. Those who continue to struggle with dependent personality disorder are likely to have a severe case that carries into older adulthood as a pervasive condition.

  • Approximately 0.5–0.6% of the population is diagnosed with dependent personality disorder
  • Women and men are equally as likely to develop dependent personality disorder

In elderly populations, the need for additional care related to aging may mask some of the more apparent symptoms of the condition. Dependent personality disorder in children isn’t commonly diagnosed due to their developmental stages, which lend themselves to dependence out of necessity. In spite of this factor, dependent personality traits can often be spotted early on and may be connected to the environment the child is raised in.

In exploring conditions related to dependent personality disorder, it is useful to look at the potential causes of the condition. Individuals who have experienced overprotective parenting, chronic illness in childhood or separation from a parent are more prone to dependent personality traits.

Dependent personality disorder is defined by its high levels of anxiety and low self-confidence. It is no surprise that other common conditions that coexist for people with dependent personality include depression, anxiety, and specific phobias.

Personality disorders and alcohol dependence also have a high correlation as affected individuals seek to self-medicate their symptoms.

Dependent Personality Disorders Treatment and Prognosis

Dependent personality disorder is a pervasive condition that manifests by early adulthood. In spite of the pervasiveness of the condition, it is possible to treat and overcome dependent personality disorder with dedication, hard work, and support. Common treatments for dependent personality disorder include talk therapy and medication. Because of its pervasive nature, long-term therapy is often the best option for optimal benefit. The prognosis for this condition largely depends on individual aspiration and dedication to treatment.

If you or a loved one is struggling with co-occurring dependent personality and substance use disorder, reach out to The Recovery Village for help and support.

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Editor – Megan Hull
Megan Hull is a content specialist who edits, writes and ideates content to help people find recovery. Read more
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Medically Reviewed By – Paula Holmes, LCSW
Paula Holmes is a licensed clinical social worker, psychotherapist and freelance writer who lives and works in midcoast Maine. She received her master's degree in Social Work in 2008 from the University of Maine. Read more

Bressert, S. Ph.D. “Dependent Personality Disorder Symptoms.” PsychCentral.com. Accessed April 27, 2019.

Myclevelandclinic.org “Dependent Personality Disorder.” Accessed April 27, 2019.

American Psychiatric Association. “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition.” 2013. Accessed April 27, 2019.

NationalDrugStrategy.gov.au “Personality disorders and substance use.” Accessed April 27, 2019.

Medlineplus.gov. “Dependent Personality Disorder.” Accessed April 27, 2019.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.