BASIC DESCRIPTION OF DPD SUFFERER :
Dependent personality disorder (DPD) affects about 0.5% of the population and is more commonly found in women than in men. Those who suffer from it greatly fear separation and abandonment by those who look after them; also, they have an excessive reliance upon others, constantly seeking reassurance, advice and care from them. In everyday language, such people are often described as being ‘clingy’.
The person suffering from DPD feels a deeply pervasive sense of being essentially helpless and of being utterly unable to cope with life’s demands on their own, rather as if they were still a young child.
AVOIDANCE OF RESPONSIBILITIES :
Because of such beliefs and feelings, the DPD sufferer will very much tend to avoid any responsibility – domestically, socially or professionally. If s/he is unexpectedly faced with responsibilities, s/he is likely to feel anxious, panicked and overwhelmed.
AFFECT OF DPD UPON RELATIONSHIPS :
Symptoms of DPD will also affect the individual’s approach to relationships. S/he will tend to only form relationships with those who are caring, nurturing and protective towards him/her, and attempt, desperately, to hold on to such relationships.
ARE THE CAUSES OF DPD KNOWN?
The causes of DPD are not fully understood. However, the current state of scientific knowledge suggests that those who suffer from DPD might have inherited a neurological predisposition towards ANXIETY and PESSIMISM which makes them vulnerable to developing DPD or other psychiatric conditions. It has been hypothesized that if, in addition, the person grows up in an environment which maintains or increases this tendency to feel anxiety and pessimism, and stifles the development of independence and self-reliance, the risk of the later development of DPD is significantly increased.
DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) LIST OF SYMPTOMS OF DPD :
– difficulty making decisions and excessive need for advice and reassurance from others
– needs others to take responsibility for major areas of their life
– difficulty disagreeing with others due to fear of abandonment or cessation of support
– problems undertaking tasks under own initiative due to lack of confidence and self-belief
– will go to extreme lengths in order to elicit the support of others
– fears being alone as believes won’t be able to cope on own
– if there is a loss of a supportive relationship, will desperately seek to replace it with similar relationship
– excessive fear of abandonment
Above list of symptoms adapted from DSM IV.
POSSIBLE TREATMENTS :
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is one treatment option which can be effective at treating DPD (click here to read my article on CBT). Also, it is sometimes treated with anti-depressants and sedatives to help address the negative thinking and anxiety connected to the condition. The two treatments of CBT and medication may be used in conjunction with one another.
DISCLAIMER : Always consult an appropriate professional regarding diagnosis of a psychiatric condition, as well as for advice as to the best treatment options for the particular individual.
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David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).