Coping With Dependent Personality Disorder

Dependent personality disorder is a mental illness that causes dependence on others, a fear of being alone, difficulty making decisions alone, poor self-confidence, and neediness and clinginess in relationships. The complications may include depression, anxiety disorders, substance abuse, and even domestic abuse. Treatment for this condition is effective, but even with treatment coping can be difficult. Work on healthier, less dependent relationships, build confidence with independent activities, and manage any co-occurring disorders to live better with this personality disorder.

Dependent personality disorder, or DPD, holds you back in so many ways.

By failing to cope with this mental illness you are not enjoying a healthy partnership; you don’t have the confidence other people have; your activities are limited because you don’t feel empowered to make decisions or do challenging things.

It is possible to make changes, though. You can treat, manage, and effectively cope with having DPD and improve all these areas of your life as a result.

What Is Dependent Personality Disorder?


The first step in coping with dependent personality disorder is recognizing that you have it. Personality disorders are conditions that cause you to have very rigid, flawed, and unhealthy beliefs and patterns of thought and behaviors, especially related to yourself and your relationships with others.

Someone with a personality disorder recognizes the challenges and difficulties in their lives, but they struggle to see that those issues come from within. They often blame others. It can be difficult to realize and accept that you have a mental illness that requires treatment. The important signs of having dependent personality disorder include:

  • An excessive need to be cared for by others
  • Submissiveness and clinginess in relationships
  • Needing reassurance from others to make decisions, preferring others take responsibility
  • Fear of disagreeing with others because of perceived rejection
  • Difficulty taking action or doing projects due to poor self-confidence
  • Fear of being alone or independent
  • Needing to always be in a close relationship

These signs must be persistent, cause significant dysfunction in your life, and typically begin by early adulthood. DPD is not easy to cope with, but there are some important steps you can take to make lasting, positive changes, starting with a diagnosis:

1. Get Professional Treatment.


The most important step anyone can take to learn to live better with a personality disorder is to get treatment. Revolving around counseling and therapy, professional treatment can help you understand your condition, develop healthier, less dependent relationships, and work on self-confidence and independence.

Residential treatment for dependent personality disorder is one option to consider. Treating a personality disorder is challenging, but it is effective if you put in the time. The best way to get the most out of treatment is to dedicate all of your time and energy to it. A residential facility will give you the chance to do that, to leave your other responsibilities at home, and to focus on yourself and making improvements for lasting change.

2. Look to Your Past.


Sometimes, understanding underlying causes or contributing factors for your challenges can help you make sense of them, accept them, and make positive changes. While there is no definitive cause of DPD or any other mental illness, this particular personality disorder may have roots in certain experiences from your past:

  • Overprotective and strict, even authoritarian, parents
  • Lack of independence as a child
  • Experiencing separation anxiety as a child
  • A history of anxiety disorders or phobias in the family
  • Past neglect as a child
  • Living with a chronic physical condition

None of these things guarantees anyone will have a personality disorder. However, if you can be more reflective of your past and the factors that could have contributed to how you function as an adult, it may help you take more active steps to change behavior patterns.

3. Work on Healthy Relationships.


One of the biggest challenges of DPD is establishing relationships with healthy boundaries and without codependence. DPD makes you feel as if you cannot take care of yourself, which makes you needy and suffocating to the most important people in your life. You probably want those people to make decisions for you, to reassure all your actions and choices.

These relationships may be unhealthy on both ends, with a partner who relishes taking charge in your life or who feels you can’t possibly be independent. Research even indicates that people with DPD are at a greater risk of being victims of domestic abuse.

Yet, even with partners who mean well and have your best interests in mind, your relationships are likely unhealthy. Use treatment and strategies learned there to develop healthier bonds with those most important to you. Include your partner in residential treatment, engage in family therapy, and encourage your family to consider going through psychoeducation, a program designed to help them learn about your condition and needs and how they can best support you.

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4. Manage Other Mental Illnesses.


It is not unusual to have complications with DPD. You are at a greater risk for also having co-occurring disorders, including depression, anxiety, phobias, and substance use disorders. If you don’t recognize and treat these other conditions, the symptoms will continue and contribute to the challenges of DPD.

A great thing about getting residential care for DPD is that the staff will be able to evaluate you and diagnose all co-occurring conditions. A treatment facility will have experts in various types of mental illness so that you can get the best care for all of them. The most effective mental health care addresses all of the needs of a patient. When you can get these other conditions under control you will be better able to cope with and manage your personality disorder.

5. Build Confidence.


One of the biggest challenges of living with DPD is feeling like you cannot do things on your own, that you can’t take care of yourself, and that you need others to make even the smallest choices for you. Work on building self-confidence to help empower your own independence. This will make coping with your doubts and fears easier with time.

You can start small, but just by engaging in new activities, your belief in your own abilities will begin to grow. For instance, you might sign up to run a 5k and start training a little bit each day to work up to it. Or, consider taking an art class to learn a new skill. Go to a social event without your partner to see that you can do things on your own. Small steps will lead to big changes and increased self-confidence and independence.

Dependent personality disorder may seem insurmountable at times. But if you start with a solid foundation of treatment and therapy, you can learn to cope with this condition. Recognize your challenges and that change is possible, and get the treatment you need to make changes for the rest of your life.

Contact us today to learn more about our program and how we can help you or your loved one start on the path to lasting wellness.