Dependent Personality Disorder Therapy

It’s not uncommon for to people fear being alone, or wish to have someone take care of them. These are perfectly natural feelings to have, but if they become disruptive to daily life, this may be indicative of deeper issues. If you know someone like this, someone who engages in submissive or dependent behaviors, with the hope that this will cause people to take care of them, they’re likely to have dependent personality disorder. Therapy can, and does, help people with dependent personality disorder to change their thoughts and behaviors, and work towards overcoming the need to be dependent.

If you’re not completely sure that the person you’re thinking of does actually have this disorder, listed below are some common behaviors and traits that these people exhibit. This disorder can only be diagnosed by a trained mental health professional, so if you find that this person does behave in these ways, seek out a professional for diagnosis.

Common Symptoms:

People with dependent personality disorder tend to:

  • Need others to take care of them to an extreme degree, where the “caretakers” assume responsibility over most important aspects of their life.
  • Desperately seek another close relationship if a close one ends.
  • Have extreme difficulty making decisions without advice or reassurance from others.
  • Lack self-esteem.
  • Lack self-confidence in their own abilities.
  • Have difficulty doing things on their own.
  • Have difficulty with, or an inability to, disagree with others, for fear of angering the person, losing support, or losing approval.
  • Go to extreme lengths to gain support or approval, such as performing unappealing tasks that others wish to avoid.
  • Hate being alone due to fears that they’re unable to take care of themselves.
  • Have an unrealistic amount of fear when it comes to people leaving them, or being forced to take care of themselves.

In essence, these people tend to exhibit submissive or clingy behaviors in order to cause people to want to take care of them. As you can see, some of these behaviors are pretty common; it is only when they are in excess that you should seek the help of a mental health professional.

How Can Therapy Help?

Therapy is the most common, and successful, method for treating dependent personality disorder. Many people with this disorder do not seek treatment but it is usually sought when people have found “stress or other complications within their life have led to decreased efficiency in life functioning”, as PsychCentral explains. Symptoms tend to lessen with age, but if everyday life is becoming difficult, don’t attempt to wait for this person to “outgrow” their dependency; seek treatment with a skilled therapist.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an effective type of therapy that actively addresses the underlying issues and their behavioral effects. Skilled therapists work with the person suffering from this disorder to understand the thoughts and feelings that lead to certain behaviors. They can then address these feelings and introduce exercises to help these people change their mindsets and leave behind their feelings of fear, lack of self-esteem, etc. Behavioral exercises such as assertiveness training “have been shown to be most effective in helping treat individuals with this disorder”, PsychCentral also mentions.

In short, therapy has shown it is an extremely successful treatment for those with dependent personality disorder, through its ability to help these people change their thoughts and behaviors, to develop healthier habits. If you believe you know someone with this disorder, seek out a Thriveworks McDonough dependent personality disorder therapist. If they are diagnosed, the wisest course of action for treatment is to work with a therapist in the safe space they create, to foster positive change.

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