When his father was arrested, Buster Bluth stepped up to run the family business. Unfortunately, in his three decades of living, this was his first day on the job… that is, on any job. On that day, Buster and the company’s employees filed into the conference room. As his employees began asking questions about the company’s future, Buster sunk under the boardroom table and whispered, “you guys are so smart.” Needless to say, Buster’s first day on the job was also his last. His professional woes, however, were only the beginning of Buster’s problems. As a fully-grown adult, Buster could not support himself personally or professionally. He is on-call for his mother’s every wish, and she in-turn provided for him. Buster, of course, is a character and a caricature. He is the youngest brother in the Bluth family on Arrested Development. He is also an illustration of Dependent Personality Disorder.
All the symptoms of Dependent Personality Disorder are displayed in Buster Bluth’s life—low self-esteem, an inability to provide for himself, an acute desire to please an authority figure, limited relationships beyond his family, and more. The show uses Buster’s inabilities for a few laughs, but the behaviors that Dependent Personality Disorder induce are serious. Anyone who struggles with the disorder will experience severe life challenges. The disorder’s symptoms often become clear as people move into adulthood, and these symptoms often prevent people from setting up a self-sufficient life, separate from a caregiver. Dependent Personality Disorder introduces many psychological and emotional difficulties, but there are treatment options available.
If you are struggling with independence, know that help is available. Many options, including medications and therapeutic treatment, are available. Thriveworks Counseling in Wilmington, NC has worked with many clients who have Dependent Personality Disorder, and our mental health professionals have helped them find the resources they need to live an independent, self-sustaining life. So, if you are looking for a psychologist, a therapist, or even a psychiatrist in the Wilmington, NC area, look no farther. Our team of mental health professionals is here to help.
Dependent Personality Disorder: Signs and Symptoms
A key sign of Dependent Personality Disorder is when an individual believes that they cannot take care of themselves, that they cannot meet their own psychological, financial, material, and emotional needs. Clinginess is often displayed in people with Dependent Personality Disorder, as is separation anxiety. People with the disorder often belittle their own skills and underestimate their own abilities. They often accept criticism wholesale and are their own biggest detractor.
While it can develop at other times, Dependent Personality Disorder most often shows itself as an individual leaves adolescence and enters adulthood. The disorder often keeps people from becoming fully independent adults. If a diagnosis is made in adolescence, it should only be made with caution as some symptoms of Dependent Personality Disorder are developmentally appropriate for a child or teen but not for an adult.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) outlines the symptoms of Dependent Personality Disorder (301.6[F70.7]). The main signs are:
- Fear of separation.
- A need to be cared for.
- Submissive behavior.
Five or more of the following signs will be present as well:
- Feeling very uncomfortable being alone. Especially experiencing a fear of being unable to care for oneself.
- The inability to make daily decisions without reassurance and/or advice from others or from an authority figure. For example, an adult daughter may still call her mother about what groceries to buy or whether to purchase a new sweater.
- Having another person be in charge of significant areas of one’s life that would normally be handled by oneself. For example, parents who still pay an adult child’s bills.
- Realistically and acutely fearing abandonment, especially if an individual would have to care for themself.
- Going to extremes to ensure a caregiver’s support and nurture continue. Specifically, individuals may compromise their values or identity in order to please others.
- Being overly agreeable with what others believe in order to avoid losing their approval and/or support. For example, people may hide religious or political beliefs, but they may also fear sharing which sports team they prefer.
- Quickly establishing a new care-taking relationship when one ends. This is often motivated in a fear of being alone.
Treatment for Dependent Personality Disorder at Thriveworks in Wilmington, NC
“The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself.”
—Michel de Montaigne
Dependent Personality Disorder is highly disruptive to an individual’s ability to function, but there are treatment options that have been effective in restoring their ability to meet their own financial, emotional, material, and psychological needs. Often, therapy involves a multi-faceted approach that may include…
- Cognitive behavioral therapy: This therapy confront negative thinking pattern like, “I cannot take care of myself.” It reframes these beliefs to be positive and true.
- Medication: If an individual is also fighting depression and/or anxiety as well as Dependent Personality Disorder, medication may relieve symptoms while people tackle deep emotional work and discover root issues that are fueling the disorder.
- Psychodynamic therapy: This therapy takes the longest, but it also has produced effective results in many people’s lives. It seeks out how the dependent behaviors initially formed and tries to apply healing to an individual’s psyche.
If you are ready for treatment, we are ready to help. When you contact Thriveworks Counseling in Wilmington, NC, you may be meeting with your therapist the following day. We offer evening and weekend appointments, and we accept many different forms of insurance. Let’s work together. Call Thriveworks in Wilmington, NC for an appointment for Dependent Personality Disorder Counseling.