Coping Strategies for Individuals with Dependant Personality Disorder

Dependant Personality Disorder (DPD) is a psychiatric condition that results in an individual experiencing an overwhelming and all-encompassing need to be looked after.

Consequently, they tend to exhibit tendencies towards submissive and overly dependent behaviors, experience profound fear at the prospect of separation, and grapple with making decisions autonomously.

This condition can significantly impact an individual’s life, causing dysfunction in relationships and daily activities.

However, with the right coping strategies, it is possible to manage the symptoms and lead a fulfilling life.

This article explores various techniques that individuals with dependant personality disorder can use to improve their quality of life.

Dependant Personality Disorder

Understanding Dependant Personality Disorder

People with DPD are overwhelmed by feelings of helplessness, fuelling their need for constant care and support.

It is very hard for them to make everyday decisions independently, and they tend to rely excessively on others for comfort and support.

The following are the most common behaviors associated with Dependant Personality Disorder.

Submissive and Clinging Behaviour

Submissive and clinging behaviour is a prominent symptom of DPD. To be clear, we are not talking about an ordinary dependence on others, but rather a crippling need to lean on other people.

This behaviour is fundamentally rooted in a pervasive and excessive need to be taken care of, which can manifest itself in various ways, significantly affecting the person’s daily life and relationships.

Helplessness and Dependence

People with DPD feel totally helplessness and believe they are incapable of taking care of themselves.

This sense of helplessness extends to all aspects of their lives, from significant matters like financial decisions to mundane tasks like choosing what to wear or what to eat.

They constantly seek reassurance and advice, leaning heavily on others for even the simplest decisions.

This dependence can be so severe that they feel unable to function without the presence or guidance of another person.

dependant personality disorder

Strained Relationships

The submissive and clinging behaviour associated with DPD puts a significant strain on relationships.

Individuals with DPD tend to display needy, passive behaviour, which can place a heavy emotional burden on their loved ones.

For instance, they might require constant reassurance from their partner, leading to an imbalanced relationship where one party assumes a disproportionate amount of responsibility.

Over time, this can lead to resentment and conflict within the relationship.

Fear-Driven Behaviour

The submissive and clinging behaviour seen in DPD is often driven by fear – fear of abandonment, rejection, and being alone.

This fear leads them to excessively cling to others, even tolerating mistreatment or abuse to avoid being left alone.

For example, they may agree with opinions they don’t genuinely hold or endure unhealthy situations just to maintain the presence and approval of others.


Profound Fear of Separation

A defining trait of Dependant Personality Disorder is a profound fear of separation.

This fear transcends the scope of physical separation and encompasses the dread of rejection, abandonment, and the loss of emotional support.

It’s a multifaceted fear that taps into the individual’s insecurities and perceived inability to function independently.

Individuals with DPD often display heightened anxiety or distress at the mere thought of their loved ones being away from them, even for a brief period.

This anxious response is not limited to significant separations like a loved one moving away, but can also be triggered by comparatively minor instances such as a partner going out for an evening with friends, a parent going on a grocery run, or a spouse leaving for a business trip.

For instance, let’s consider the scenario of a spouse going on a business trip.

Someone with DPD might experience intense panic and anxiety about this temporary separation.

They might worry excessively about how they will manage daily tasks without their spouse’s guidance or support.

This fear could manifest in different ways – sleepless nights, constant calls to the spouse for reassurance, or even attempts to dissuade the spouse from going on the trip.


An individual with DPD will constantly seek reassurances of love and loyalty from their loved ones.

They also tend to exhibit ‘people-pleasing’ behaviors, agreeing with others to avoid conflict, even if it goes against their own beliefs or preferences.

Difficulty Making Decisions Independently

A striking characteristic of Dependant Personality Disorder is the significant difficulty individuals face when making decisions independently.

This trait not only shapes their daily lives but also has profound implications for their personal growth and self-identity.

People with DPD often grapple with low self-confidence, leading to a pervasive sense of self-doubt and uncertainty about their decision-making capabilities.

Their fear of making mistakes or facing disapproval is so overwhelming that they choose to sidestep the responsibility of decision-making altogether, preferring to rely on others instead.


This reliance often extends to all areas of their life, from major decisions like career choices and housing arrangements, down to everyday choices such as selecting clothes or planning meals.

As a result an individual with Dependant Personality Disorder creates an unhealthy dynamic in relationships, where they become overly reliant and the other party feels burdened by responsibility.

Moreover, this lack of autonomous decision-making can hinder personal growth and the development of a distinct self-identity.

Since they constantly seek external validation and guidance, people with DPD often struggle to discover their preferences, strengths, and values.

This can lead to a diminished sense of self-worth and identity, and prevent them from reaching their full potential.

Strategies for Dealing with Dependant Personality Disorder

Dealing with Dependant Personality Disorder (DPD) can be a challenge, but various strategies can help individuals manage their symptoms and lead more independent lives.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a common therapeutic approach used to treat DPD. This form of therapy helps individuals identify and change thought patterns that lead to harmful behaviors or feelings.

For instance, if an individual with DPD constantly seeks reassurance from others due to a fear of making wrong decisions, a CBT therapist might work with them to recognize this behavior, understand its roots, and develop healthier ways to cope with decision-making anxiety.


Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is another effective strategy for managing DPD.

DBT teaches coping skills for stress tolerance, emotional regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness.

A person with DPD might learn how to tolerate distressing situations (like being alone) without resorting to harmful behaviors (like clinging to others).

They may also learn to regulate their emotions better, so the fear of abandonment doesn’t overwhelm them.

Group Therapy

Group therapy can be beneficial for individuals with DPD as it provides a safe space to share experiences and learn from others facing similar challenges.

In a group therapy session, an individual with DPD might hear how another member handled a situation independently. This sharing of experiences can provide new perspectives and practical strategies for managing their disorder.

group therapy


While there’s no specific drug to treat DPD, medication can be used to manage co-occurring conditions like depression or anxiety.

If a person with DPD also suffers from severe anxiety, a healthcare provider might prescribe an anti-anxiety medication to help manage those symptoms.

Self-Care Practices

Self-care practices such as regular exercise, a healthy diet, adequate sleep, and mindfulness can also support overall mental health and resilience.

Meditation or yoga can help individuals with DPD manage stress and anxiety, promoting a sense of inner peace and self-reliance.


Building Self-Esteem and Assertiveness

Building self-esteem and assertiveness is a crucial part of the recovery process.

Specific strategies might include assertiveness training to help develop self-confidence. By expressing emotions and opinions confidently, individuals with DPD can gradually become more independent.

Practicing Self-Sufficiency and Decision-Making Skills

Another effective coping strategy for dependant personality disorder is practicing self-sufficiency and decision-making skills.

Starting with small tasks and gradually taking on more significant challenges can help build confidence in one’s ability to handle situations independently.

Final Thoughts on Dealing With Dependant Personality Disorder

In conclusion, while dependant personality disorder can be a challenging condition to manage, with the right coping strategies and professional support, individuals with DPD can lead fulfilling, independent lives.

It’s important to keep in mind that everyone’s journey with DPD is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another. Therefore, it’s crucial to seek professional advice when developing a treatment plan.

Frequently Asked Questions about Narcissism

Frequently Asked Questions About Dealing With Dependant Personality Disorder

What is Dependant Personality Disorder?

Dependant Personality Disorder is a mental health condition characterized by a pervasive and excessive need to be taken care of, leading to submissive and clinging behavior and fear of separation.

What are the symptoms of Dependant Personality Disorder?

Symptoms of DPD include difficulty making decisions independently, fear of abandonment, intense anxiety when left alone, going to great lengths to avoid being alone, difficulty expressing disagreement with others, and feelings of helplessness when alone.

How is Dependant Personality Disorder diagnosed?

DPD is typically diagnosed by a mental health professional through a comprehensive evaluation. This includes observing the individual’s behavior, as well as discussions about their thoughts and feelings.

Can Dependant Personality Disorder be treated?

Yes, DPD can be treated. The most common treatment methods include psychotherapy, specifically cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). In some cases, medication may also be used to manage associated symptoms like anxiety and depression.

How can I support a loved one with DPD?

Supporting a loved one with DPD involves understanding their condition, offering emotional support, encouraging them to seek professional help, and setting healthy boundaries to prevent dependency.

Is DPD a lifelong disorder?

Not necessarily. While some people may experience symptoms for many years, others may find that their symptoms decrease over time, especially with treatment and learning coping strategies.

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