You have likely heard this story before: after a young girl’s father dies, her stepmother and step-sisters force her to become their servant. This young girl does the family’s cooking and cleaning while her stepfamily does not lift a finger. As time goes by, the young girl continues to comply with their outlandish demands—without thanks and without fail. With time, the young girl loses her identity and self of self so that others come to her rescue. Her fairy godmother and animal friends conspire to help her escape and find her prince charming. This is, of course, the familiar story of Cinderella, but it is also the story of people who have Dependent Personality Disorder, which is often called the “Cinderella Complex.” When people are acutely compliant, fear independence, and need to be cared for (or rescued), they may have Dependent Personality Disorder.
Mutually beneficial relationships are difficult for people with the disorder. They often struggle with low-self-esteem. They usually have an intense desire to please authority figures and for those figures to then take care of them. Dependent Personality Disorder can cause severe challenges in an individual’s life, but it is a disorder that has treatments. Different psychotherapy approaches and medications have proven effective for treating the disorder. People can learn to be self-reliant.
The mental health professionals at Thriveworks Newport News understand how Dependent Personality Disorder works and the treatment options that are available. That is why we offer treatment for the disorder. We have helped many people discover how capable they are.
How Dependent Personality Disorder Develops
Children and teens go through dependent stages of development, and certain cultures have practices that are deferential to authority figures. These stages and practices are very different than Dependent Personality Disorder. This disorder is a mental illness that is not developmentally or culturally based.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) outlines the criteria for diagnosing Dependent Personality Disorder (301.6[F70.7]). The disorder often develops as an individual transitions from adolescence to adulthood. They are often unable to make the leap into independence and sustain a fully-functioning adult life that is self-sufficient. Further, Dependent Personality Disorder raises an individual’s risk for other depression, personality, anxiety, and adjustment disorders.
Signs and Symptoms of Dependent Personality Disorder
Two distorted thoughts are the fuel for Dependent Personality Disorder. First, people with the disorder often tell themselves that they cannot be responsible for their own needs. Second, people with the disorder often tell themselves that others, therefore, need to provide for them in order to survive. Neither of these are true, but they feel very real to people with the disorder. Neediness and clinginess are, thus, very common traits of people who are fighting Dependent Personality Disorder. They can also be their own worst critics and accept critique or denigration without question. They often understandable their own abilities.
The DSM-5 outlines these three symptoms as essential for a Dependent Personality Disorder diagnosis:
- Anxiety when separated from care givers.
- A core need for someone to care for them.
- Behavior that is overly deferential.
In addition, at least five of the following will be present:
- Quickly finding new caregivers when one caregiving relationship ends.
- Adjusting what one thinks or feels or values to what others think in order to secure their approval.
- The inability to make everyday choices without consulting with an authority figure for reassurance and advice.
- Handing over responsibility of significant portions of one’s life to another. For example, parents who pay an adult child’s rent.
- An extreme fear of being abandoned.
- Feeling distress when alone and going to extremes to be around other people.
- An extreme fear of having to care for oneself.
Dependent Personality Disorder, can cause extreme difficulties for people. In their personal lives, those with the disorder have difficulty forming genuine friendships that do not devolve into caretaking relationships, and thus, they often have very small social circles. Professionally, people with the disorder often struggle to find or hold a job. They often lack confidence and do not take initiative which hampers them professionally.
Setting Up Therapy at Thriveworks Newport News for Dependent Personality Disorder
“You are constantly invited to be what you are.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson
Without a doubt, Dependent Personality Disorder can wreak havoc in an individual’s life. It is a serious illness, and like other serious illnesses, healing often requires treatment. With intervention, it may be possible for people with the disorder to live independent, self-sustaining lives—to live their own lives. Thriveworks Newport News works with many clients, and we offer holistic and individualized therapy. Some clients benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy while others need psychodynamic therapy. Some people need medication while others do not. Our mental health professionals are committed to helping their clients find the specific treatments they need.
We want to help. When you contact our office, know that a scheduling specialist will answer your call and help you make an appointment. New clients often meet with their counselor within 24 hours of their first call. We offer evening and weekend appointments, but we do not put our clients on a waitlist. Instead, we want them to have the help they need when they need it. We also accept many different forms of insurance. Call Thriveworks Newport News today to schedule an appointment for Dependent Personality Disorder. Let’s work together.