When his father was arrested, Buster Bluth stepped up to run the family’s real estate development business. His first day on the job was literally his first day on any job. In his 30+ years of life, Buster had never worked. His mother took care of him, and he lived to serve her, even zipping up her dresses when she called. When Buster walked into the boardroom to meet with employees, he gave himself a pep talk, but by the end of the meeting, he was hiding under the conference table, hyperventilating. Buster’s problems, however, did not begin or end with this meeting. As an adult, he has few friends, he lives at home, and he does not know how to provide for his basic needs. Buster is dependent upon his mother’s care. Buster, of course, is not a real person but a character on the show Arrested Development. He is also an illustration of what it looks like to have Dependent Personality Disorder.
Buster’s character on the show gets a lot of laughs, but in real life, Dependent Personality Disorder is a serious illness. When people have the disorder, they often have low self-esteem, fear having to provide for themselves, do not form or maintain relationships outside of their family, and live to please an authority figure. Without question, this disorder can cause severe challenges in an individual’s personal and professional life. Being an individual with unique likes, dislikes, opinions, skills, and abilities is difficult for people with Dependent Personality Disorder. They often are stuck in adolescence and do not transition developmentally to adulthood, living a separate life from their caregiver and authority figure. Dependent Personality Disorder creates substantial emotional and psychological problems in an individual’s life, but there are treatments for this disorder.
That is why Thriveworks Manassas in Prince William offers therapy for Dependent Personality Disorder. Healing is possible. Many of our clients have learned to live their own, unique, independent lives with the help of a counselor, therapist, or psychologist.
The Symptoms of Dependent Personality Disorder
When people have Dependent Personality Disorder, two false beliefs fuel their behavior. First, these individuals tell themselves that they cannot provide for themselves and meet their own needs. Second, these individuals tell themselves that only other people are capable of taking care of them. Thus, the disorder drives people to be dependent upon others for their every emotional, psychological, financial, and/or material need. Individuals with the disorder are often clingy, and they often experience separation anxiety. They often have a skewed self-perception that minimizes their skills and abilities. They often accept criticism and critique without questioning it.
Certain symptoms of Dependent Personality Disorder are developmentally appropriate for children and teens, so it is often not diagnosed until adulthood. The symptoms of the disorder often become apparent as an individual into adulthood.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) gives those symptoms for diagnosing Dependent Personality Disorder (301.6[F70.7]). There are three main diagnostics:
- Submissive behavior.
- A need to be taken care of.
- Separation anxiety.
At least five of the following symptoms will also be present in people with Dependent Personality Disorder:
- Making simple, everyday decisions are difficult… people need an authority figure’s advice or reassurance to make a choice.
- Being uncomfortable with one’s own individuality.
- Fearing being alone or having to provide for oneself.
- Giving significant areas of responsibility for one’s life over to other people. For example, allowing a parent or caregiver to pay one’s bills.
- Putting great effort into ensuring that others support and nurture oneself, even changing one’s identity or values to appease a caregiver.
- Intensely fearing abandonment.
- Having a compliant personality that often agrees with others to ensure their approval or hides one’s true thoughts and feelings out of fear.
- When one caregiving relationship ends, quickly establishing a new one.
- Intense fear of being alone.
In reading through these symptoms, it is easy to see how Dependent Personality Disorder can be severely disruptive in an individual’s professional and personal life. People with the disorder often have difficulty forming mutual friendships and have limited social circles. Professionally, they rarely show initiative and lack confidence. They often have difficulty securing employment and then advancing within their professions. Further, people with the disorder are at increased risk for other depression, anxiety, adjustment, and personalities disorders.
Setting Up an Appointment for Dependent Personality Disorder at Thriveworks Manassas in Prince William
“The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself.”
—Michel de Montaigne
Dependent Personality Disorder is a serious mental illness, and like any serious illness, many people who have the disorder need treatment. Mental health professionals understand how the disorder works and the treatment options that are available. Individuality and independence are possible. Some of the treatments that may lead to healing include…
- Cognitive behavioral therapy – confronts the negative and untrue beliefs that fuel the disorder and replaces them with true, positive beliefs.
- Medication – is often a help for symptom relief and may allow people to focus upon long-term healing.
- Psychodynamic therapy – goes deep into the psychological wound and assesses how and why the dependency formed.
If you are struggling with dependency, know that you are not alone. Help is available. When you call Thriveworks Manassas in Prince William County, you may have your first appointment the following day. We offer evening and weekend sessions, and we accept many different forms of insurance. Call today for an appointment with a counselor or psychologist to treat Dependent Personality Disorder.