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Understanding Mental Disorder

Dependent personality disorder (DPD)

Overview of DPD

Whereby an individual shows patterns of dependency, relying heavily on others and/or being submissive and clingy to other people. These individuals may fear being abandonment and being independent, display low self-confidence and have significant difficulties in making decisions, usually requiring irrational amounts of advice and reassurance of choice by other people. These individuals are likely to experience difficulties in expressing their views due to fear of rejection by others. Individuals with DPD may avoid being alone as they perceive themselves as unable to care for themselves and may consistently seek out relationships so others can care for them.


While the exact cause of DPD is unknown, research has suggested that up to 72% of the risk of developing DPD is through shared genes from parents. Childhood environment and parenting styles may also play a role, with characteristically overprotective or authoritarian parenting styles potentially making an individual more susceptible to developing DPD. Adverse experiences within childhood may also be a risk factor, such as emotional and physical neglect or physical abuse, as well as experiencing intense interpersonal stress and chaotic households.


Without treatment DPD is unlikely to improve. However, with the correct treatment, progress and improvements can be made. Psychotherapy is the first line of treatment suggested for DPD. Cognitive behavioural therapy can be a useful intervention in examining cognitive distortions and identifying negative thinking patterns, weighing up the reality of them and then replacing them with new ones. Psychodynamic psychotherapy may be suggested to examine emotions experienced and the relationship between the individual and the world. Behaviour can be changed by examination of the past and its relation to the present day. While not used to treat DPD itself, medications may be prescribed to treat individual symptoms, such as anxiety.

If you would like more information about how Cognacity can help or to make an appointment please contact us on: 020 3219 3080 or

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