Individuals might not seek treatment for dependent personality disorder (DPD). However, they might seek treatment when something in their lives, such as relationship problems or anxiety that causes difficulties at work or home, becomes out of control. When they are no longer able to cope, they may be drawn to therapy to get more support and attention from their loved ones or to keep their relationship from ending. Individuals with dependent personality disorder may be prone to developing depression or anxiety.

Individuals with dependent personality may find it difficult to carry out adult tasks on their own. It is important for them to seek an experienced professional for treatment who can help them gain confidence, understand the underlying causes and prescribe them with medication that will improve their symptoms.

Medications Used for Treating Dependent Personality Disorder

No medication will cure dependent personality disorder, but some medications may be helpful in addressing the condition’s underlying symptoms. Drugs such as antidepressants, sedatives and tranquilizers are often prescribed for patients with dependent personality disorder.

Reducing distress is the priority. If the individual cannot remove themselves from a stressful situation or relationship first, drug therapy may be needed to help reduce this stress before further treatment can take place. Reducing stress can make treating the underlying disorder significantly easier.


People who have an underlying depression disorder that makes their dependent personality disorder symptoms worse may take antidepressants. Antidepressants like Zoloft, Paxil and Celexa may be able to improve the thought process of the individual and may lead to more positive thinking. While these medications may lessen negative thinking, they do not always eliminate it entirely.


If the individual is currently experiencing anxiety along with their dependent personality disorder, their therapist may suggest a sedative to help calm their nervous system. Sedatives, such as benzodiazepines and barbiturates, depress the nervous system and the brain, relaxing a high-anxiety or over-active brain. Sedatives are a common medication used for sleep disorders as well as multiple categories of anxiety.


These medications create a calm nervous system while removing both physical and psychological effects of fear or anxiety. Some well-known tranquilizers include Valium, Librium and Xanax.

Therapy Options for Dependent Personality Disorder

There are also obstacles in treating people with dependent personality disorder, as they may think other people are mistreating them and may not easily see their faults. They may feel that they never get enough support or reassurance. Therapy is the primary and safest treatment for individuals living with dependent personality disorder. Mental health professionals can help these individuals view themselves as capable of doing things themselves through steps and learned habits in therapy instead of continuing to develop dependent relationships.


Psychotherapy is the leading form of treatment for people with dependent personality disorder. The ultimate goal of therapy is to guide the individual to be more independent. This independence will help them form healthy relationships.

Strategies of psychotherapy include assertiveness training to help the person develop self-confidence and develop new attitudes and perspectives about themselves. Long-term psychotherapy focuses on the early developmental experiences that may have shaped the formation of defense mechanisms, lack of coping and negative patterns with intimacy in close relationships.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

One popular treatment for dependent personality disorder is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a form of talk therapy that focuses on how a person thinks and behaves. The goal of cognitive behavioral therapy is to identify negative thoughts and behavior patterns and replace them with positive, helpful alternatives. Individuals who participate in CBT may learn skills to help them control their thoughts and emotions to improve coping skills. CBT often ends each session with homework for the patient to complete, such as applying skills they learned to their daily life.

Unlike psychotherapy, CBT focuses on current life difficulties rather than prior factors that could have led to those difficulties. The idea is to move forward, away from the abandonment issue cause, and learn coping skills for dealing with stressors and situations in the present.

CBT strategies and skills can include:

  • Identifying current life situations that cause distress
  • Identifying and facing fears rather than avoiding them
  • Using relaxation techniques to calm body and mind
  • Identifying and restructuring distorted thinking

Treating Dependent Personality Disorder with Co-Occurring Substance Abuse Disorders

Co-occurring disorders are quite common when an individual has a personality disorder. The co-occurring conditions may be other mental illnesses or substance use disorders.

Mental illnesses that may co-occur with dependent personality disorder include depression and anxiety disorders. Personality disorders often co-occur with each other. One of the most common combinations of personality disorders is dependent and avoidant personality disorders. Avoidant personality disorder causes social reserve and extreme sensitivity to criticism. It may cause a strong fear of rejection and low self-esteem in social situations. 

If you or a loved one needs help or assistance in treatment, The Recovery Village facilities can help. People who struggle with a co-occurring dependent personality disorder and addiction can receive help from one of the facilities located throughout the country. If you or a loved one has dependent personality disorder, call The Recovery Village to speak with a representative.