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.

Some dependent personality disorder statistics include the following:

  • 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

Diagnostic criteria for dependent personality disorder include a minimum of five of the following traits:

  • Difficulty making everyday decisions without excessive advice and reassurance
  • Reliance on others to take responsibility for most major areas of the individual’s life
  • Trouble expressing disagreement due to fear of rejection or loss of support from others
  • Challenges with initiating projects due to low self-confidence in one’s judgment
  • Excessive need for nurturing and support from others to the point of volunteering to do unpleasant things
  • Feelings of helplessness and discomfort in being alone due to fears of being unable to care for oneself
  • Seeks another relationship quickly when a close relationship ends
  • Significant preoccupation with fears of being abandoned and having to take care of oneself

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.

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.

Dependent Personality Disorders and Related Conditions

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, anxietyand specific phobias.

Dependent Personality Disorders and Substance Abuse

Personality disorders and alcohol dependence have a high correlation. People with personality disorders classified as cluster b (including histrionic, antisocial, narcissistic and borderline personality disorders) are more likely to experience substance use than individuals with cluster c personality disorders (dependent, avoidant and obsessive-compulsive personality disorders.)

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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