Dependent Personality Disorder Therapy in Knoxville, TN

Buster Bluth entered his father’s boardroom for the first time in his entire life. Buster was in his 30s and still living at home when his father was arrested. When Buster’s older brothers refused to take over the family business, Buster gave it a try. He had never worked a job in his life. After this first meeting, Buster hid until the table, looked at his employees, and whispered, “you guys are so smart.” This disastrous first meeting was neither the beginning nor the end of Buster’s difficulties. As an adult, he still lives to please his mother, making himself constantly available to zip up her dresses. Of course, Buster is a character on the hit show Arrested Development, and he is also a caricature of Dependent Personality Disorder. Buster Bluth has kept audiences laughing, but Dependent Personality Disorder is a real illness that can cripple people.

Buster illustrates many of Dependent Personality Disorder’s symptoms: the need to please anyone in authority, low-self-esteem, an inability to trust oneself, difficulty forming and maintaining relationships outside of the family. People who suffer from Dependent Personality Disorder live with significant challenges. In particular, they have difficulty transitioning from adolescence into adulthood. Being their own, distinct person is difficult for them. They often cannot separate themselves from an authority figure, and thus, face substantial psychological and emotional problems.

If you are suffering with Dependent Personality Disorder or if you are wondering if you may have it, know that help is available. It is a serious illness, but it has treatments. Mental health professionals know that many treatment options are available, and skilled therapists can help their clients find the options that may be most effective. Thriveworks Knoxville has worked with many clients, helping them find treatment for Dependent Personality Disorder.

What Are the Signs Dependent Personality Disorder?

The main sign that someone has Dependent Personality Disorder is that they believe they cannot rely upon themselves for their own needs. They look to others to fulfill their material, emotional, financial, and psychological needs. Dependent Personality Disorder often displays itself as clinginess and separation anxiety. People with the disorder often minimize how much they are capable of doing and accept criticism without question. Dependent Personality Disorder turns people into their own worst critic.

While the disorder can develop at any time, it general shows itself as people leave adolescence and enter adulthood. Because some of the symptoms of Dependent Personality as developmentally appropriate for a child or teen, a diagnosis give before an individual reaches adulthood should only be done with caution.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5)
outlines the full diagnostic criteria for Dependent Personality Disorder (301.6[F70.7]). There are three main indicators:

  1. A need to be taken care of.
  2. Separation anxiety.
  3. Submissive behavior.

Along with these, people with Dependent Personality Disorder will also display at least five of the following:

  • Daily decisions are a challenge unless an authority figure gives advice and reassurance. For example, adults may call their parents about all their choices, even where to eat dinner or which sweater to buy.
  • Discomfort with being an individual.
  • Fear of having to provide for oneself.
  • Allowing other people to take charge of one’s life. For example, parents who continue to pay an adult child’s bills.
  • Going to great lengths to ensure one is supported and nurtured, even compromising one’s values or identity to please a caretaker.
  • A real and intense fear of abandonment.
  • A compliant personality. Agreeing with other people to ensure their approval/support. Hiding one’s true thoughts because of a fear of rejection.
  • Quickly seeking a new care-taker if a care-taking relationship ends.
  • Fear of being alone.

People who have Dependent Personality Disorder often struggle to function well in their personal and professional lives. They often have limited social circles and struggle to be in mutual friendships. Often, their personal relationships are limited to the people who care for them in some way. Professionally, people with Dependent Personality Disorder often do not show initiative and they may lack confidence. It is usually difficult for them to advance professionally. Additionally, having Dependent Personality Disorder raises people’s risk of developing other personality and adjustment disorders and raises their risk of depression and anxiety.

Treating Dependent Personality Disorder at Thriveworks Knoxville

“The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself.”
—Michel de Montaigne

Dependent Personality Disorder is a serious condition, but it has treatments. It is possible for people to become self-reliant and independent. Therapists have many options that may benefit a client, depending upon their circumstances. Some of those options for treatment include…

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy seeks to confront negative thought patterns and replace them with positive and true thinking patterns.
  • Medication may be helpful, especially if anxiety, depression, or another personality disorder is present.
  • Psychodynamic therapy looks at how the dependency developed and addresses wounds to an individual’s psyche.

If you or someone you love is struggling with dependency, know that help is available. When you contact Thriveworks Knoxville, a person will answer your call and help you make an appointment. You may be able to meet with a therapist the following day. Evening and weekend sessions are available, and we accept many different insurance plans. Thriveworks Knoxville treats Dependent Personality Disorder, and we have appointments available. Let’s work together toward independence. Call today.

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Thriveworks Counseling


  • 10434 Jackson Oaks Way
    Knoxville , TN 37922

  • Mon-Fri:8AM-9PM