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Redmond Regional Medical Center

Dependent Personality Disorder


Dependent personality disorder is characterized by dependent and submissive behavior. The person often defers the majority or all decision-making to someone else. People with this type of personality disorder are not aware that their thoughts and behaviors are inappropriate.


It is not clear what causes personality disorders, but it is likely a combination of genetic factors and a person's environment.

The Central Nervous System
Brain face skull
A personality disorder is most likely a combination of chemical or electrical imbalances in the brain and a reaction to traumatic personal experiences.
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Risk Factors

Dependent personality disorder is more common in women and in early adulthood. Other factors that may increase your chance of developing dependent personality disorder include:

  • Early childhood parental loss
  • Child abuse or neglect
  • Chronic physical illness during childhood

Other associated psychological problems can include:


Dependent personality disorder may cause:

  • Irrational fear
  • Relying on others for guidance, decision-making, reassurance, and advice
  • Excessive sensitivity to criticism
  • A strong fear of rejection
  • Perception of oneself as powerless
  • Low self-confidence


You will likely be referred to a psychiatrist or other mental health professional. You will be asked about your symptoms. A mental and medical health history will be taken. A diagnosis will be made after a complete psychiatric assessment that rules out other disorders.


Treatment includes counseling, medication, and therapy. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Options include:


Counseling may be beneficial for people with dependent personality disorder. Counseling sessions focus on learning how to manage your anxiety and be more assertive.


Medications may be prescribed to treat other psychological conditions, such as anxiety or depression.

Other Treatments

Other treatments, such as cognitive behavioral therapy or group therapy can help you manage symptoms.


There are no current guidelines to prevent dependent personality disorder.

Revision Information

  • Mental Health America

  • National Institute of Mental Health

  • Canadian Mental Health Association

  • Canadian Psychiatric Association

  • Dependent personality disorder. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Accessed December 15, 2011. Updated November 12, 2014.

  • Personality disorder. Mental Health America website. Available at: Accessed November 12, 2014.

The health information in this Health Library is provided by a third party. Redmond Regional Medical Center does not in any way create the content of this information. It is provided solely for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical advice and is not intended to be a substitute for proper medical care provided by a physician. Always consult with your doctor for appropriate examinations, treatment, testing, and care recommendations. Do not rely on information on this site as a tool for self-diagnosis. If you have a medical emergency, call 911.