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Dependent personality disorder

Contents of this page:

Alternative Names   

Personality disorder - dependent

Definition    Return to top

Dependent personality disorder is a long-term (chronic) condition in which people depend too much on others to meet their emotional and physical needs.

Causes    Return to top

Dependent personality disorder usually begins in childhood. However, the cause of this disorder is unknown. It is one of the most common personality disorders, and is equally common in men and women.

Symptoms    Return to top

People with this disorder do not trust their own ability to make decisions. They may be devastated by separation and loss. They may go to great lengths, even suffering abuse, to stay in a relationship.

Exams and Tests    Return to top

A person with dependent personality disorder may:

Treatment    Return to top

There is no specific treatment for this disorder. Psychotherapy may be useful in gradually helping the person make more independent choices in life. Medication may also be helpful in treating any other underlying conditions.

Outlook (Prognosis)    Return to top

Improvements are usually seen only with long-term therapy.

Possible Complications    Return to top

When to Contact a Medical Professional    Return to top

Call for an appointment with your health care provider or a mental health professional if you or your adolescent has symptoms of dependent personality disorder.

References    Return to top

Young JQ. Dependent personality disorder. In: Ferri FF, ed. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2008: Instant Diagnosis and Treatment. 1st ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2008.

Update Date: 10/17/2008

Updated by: Linda Vorvick, MD, Seattle Site Coordinator, Lecturer, Pathophysiology, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine; and Timothy A. Rogge, MD, private practice in Psychiatry, Kirkland, Washington. Also reviewed byDavid Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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