Dependent Personality disorder treatment center - MIAMI, FL

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What is dependent personality Disorder?

The DSM-V defines dependent personality disorder as a disorder in which the individual has an excessive need to be taken care of (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). This need can manifest as a fear of separation and clingy behavior (Rice, 2021). The fear of abandonment in someone experiencing dependent personality disorder is very strong which could lead to the person minimizing their own skills and ability to perform certain tasks (Sheppard-Pratt, 2021).

Individuals with dependent personality disorder internalize the belief that they are unable to perform age- appropriate tasks and need to overly rely on a person or multiple people to do it (Rice, 2021). Some of the ways in which a person with dependent personality disorder might interact with their environments is by engaging in self-criticism, self-doubt, struggles interacting with new people, lack of autonomy, masking insecurity by an unreal sense of confidence, being overly sensitive to criticism and unable to make daily living decisions on their own (Rice, 2021).

Dependent Personality Disorder Risk Factors

The risk factors associated with the development of dependent personality disorder involve a combination of factors including:

Biological Factors

Biological (i.e., having a family history of personality disorders/other mental health disorders)

Social and Environmental Factors

Social/environmental (i.e., traumatic experiences of abuse & neglect)

Psychological Factors

Psychological factors (issues with self-confidence/esteem) (Rice, 2021).

Parenting Styles

In addition, the parenting style the individual is exposed too while growing up tends to play a role in increasing the risk of developing personality disorders, particularly DPD (Rice, 2021).

One of the parenting styles that has shown to be correlated with dependent personality disorder is authoritarian (controlling/over-protective) (Cleveland Clinic, 2014). This parenting style is characterized by parents who make decisions for children and teenagers in an inappropriate manner by fostering dependence and lack of autonomy (Cleveland Clinic, 2014).

In addition, this impacts an individual’s ability to learn how to make age-appropriate decisions (Cleveland Clinic, 2014). In people with dependent personality disorder, it is common to see the presence of substance use (Trull et al., 2010), increased stress, social withdrawal/less social support, interpersonal problems, and suicidal tendencies (American Psychiatric Association, 2013).

It is not uncommon for a person struggling with dependent personality disorder symptoms to not seek therapy until they experience symptoms related to anxiety and depression that impact their ability to cope and function in their environments (Cleveland Clinic, 2014).

Symptoms of Dependent Personality Disorder

Per the DSM-V the symptoms of Dependent Personality Disorder include:

  • An excessive and pervasive need to feel cared by others, needy behavior derived by fear of abandonment, and submissive behavior.
  • Difficulty starting projects without approval and support of others.
  • Fear of disagreements that could cause lack of approval by others.
  • Feelings of helplessness, vulnerability, sadness, and lethargy when alone
  • A desire to do everything in their power (including putting up with abusive or dangerous situations) to keep a valued person near them.
  • Consistently and desperately seeking another relationship when one ends
  • Difficulty making daily life decisions without input, advice, and reassurance from others.
  • Needing others to take and assume responsibility the person should be attending too.

Dependent personality disorder has a very high impact on functionality in many areas of a person’s life (Out of the Fog, 2014). In American culture, there are societal expectations for young adults/adults to be confident, decisive, independent, and self-reliant (Out of the Fog, 2014). A person who struggles with these areas has challenges academically, professionally, and interpersonally (Rice, 2021). It poses challenges in decision-making, independence and learning basic adult skills (i.e., driving a car, maintain employment, completing an education) (Rice, 2021).

In addition, individuals with dependent personality disorder will tolerate unhealthy life situations, such as different forms of abuse (i.e., verbal, physical, sexual) (Cormier & Perez-Diaz, 2011). More specifically, individuals with dependent personality disorder are prone to enter abusive relationships (Cormier & Perez-Diaz, 2011). They tend to have poor boundaries, be naïve, and fail to recognize the red flags in a potential negative peer and/or romantic relationship (Cormier & Perez-Diaz, 201). Due to their fear of abandonment they tend to tolerate the abuse of individuals in their life because they believe they can’t function without theuir support (Cormier & Perez-Diaz, 2011).

Dependent Personality Disorder Treatment Options

Dependent personality disorder can be effectively treated through the use of a variety of evidence- based approaches combined with medication such as:


In many cases, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Psychodynamic techniques are used to treat DPD (WebMD, 2020). The goal of therapy for DPD is to support the individual in becoming more independent, active, and form healthy relationships (WebMD, 2020). CBT supports with helping the individual develop new attitude and perspectives about themselves in relation to their experiences as well as developing healthy cognition (WebMD, 2020). Another strategy utilized for the treatment of DPD is assertiveness training with the goal of helping the person build self-confidence, esteem, and assertiveness in their daily lives (WebMD, 2020).  Psychodynamic therapy is also used to explore the role of early developmental experiences in shaping the formation of defense mechanisms, coping styles, and patterns of attachment and intimacy in relationships. (WebMD, 2020).


Although there is no medication to directly treat DPD there have been some mood stabilizers, anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication that in combination with psychotherapy have been effective in managing some of the symptoms of DPD (Rice, 2021).

Other Important Considerations

An important aspect to keep in mind when diagnosing dependent personality disorder or treating an individual with dependent personality disorder symptomatology are cultural beliefs. In non-Western culture, mainly for females it is not unusual to expect a certain level of submissiveness and dependence on their parents or husbands. This can pose a particular challenge in functionality and adaptability if the individual comes from a culture where dependency is valued and/or is being treated utilizing a Western approach. It is crucial to keep in mind the influence that cultural beliefs might be playing in the symptomatology of an individual and utilize a culturally sensitive approach that honors the person’s beliefs and is conducive to the improvement of their symptoms.

Getting Treatment for Dependent Personality Disorder in Miami, Florida

Galen Hope, a mental health treatment center in Miami, Florida, provides comprehensive services for a wide range of diagnoses and related conditions, including: Eating Disorders, Anxiety Disorders, Borderline Personality Disorder, Dependent Personality Disorder, Mood Disorders, PTSD/Trauma, Psychosis, Thought Disorders, and Schizoid Personality Disorder. Our treatment integrates the best concepts of residential programs, partial hospitalization programs, and community psychology in order to provide an experience that not only feels uniquely meaningful to the client, but also breaks the cycle of repeated hospitalizations, over-institutionalization, and isolation from community and family.

To learn more, or to join our community, contact us below.


American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. (5th Edition). Washington, DC.

Cleveland Clinic. (2014). Dependent Personality Disorder. Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved March  22, 2014 from behavorial health/diseaseconditions/hic-dependent-personality-disorder.aspx.

Dependent personality disorder: Knowledge center. Sheppard Pratt. (2021). Retrieved September 14, 2021, from

Loas, G, Cormier, J, and Perez-Diaz F (2011). Dependent personality disorder and physical abuse. Psychiatry Research.185 (2011) 167–170.

Out of The Fog (2014). Dependent Personality Disorder. Out of the Fog. Retrieved March 22, 2014 from

Rice, C. (2021, March 25). Symptoms of dependent personality disorder. Psych Central. Retrieved September 14, 2021, from

Trull,T.J., Jahng, S., Sher, K.J. (2010). Revised NESARC personality disorder diagnoses: gender, prevalence, and comorbidity with substance dependence disorders.         Journal of Personality Disorders. 24(4): 412–426. Retrieved March 19, 2014 from

WebMD. (n.d.). Dependent personality disorder. WebMD. Retrieved September 14, 2021, from

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