The symptoms of dependent personality disorder primarily include a long-standing need for the person to be taken care of and a fear of being abandoned or separated from important individuals in his or her life.

Individuals with dependent personality disorder are often characterized by:

  • pessimism and self-doubt.
  • take criticism and disapproval as proof of their worthlessness.
  • lose faith in themselves.
  • may seek overprotection and dominance from others.
  • regular activities of daily life may be impaired if independent initiative is required.
  • may avoid positions of responsibility.
  • become anxious when faced with decisions.
  • social relations tend to be limited to those few people on whom the individual is dependent.

Chronic physical illness or separation anxiety disorder in childhood or adolescence may predispose an individual to the development of dependent personality disorder.

Symptoms of Dependent Personality Disorder

Dependent personality disorder is characterized by the following symptoms:

  • Has difficulty making everyday decisions without an excessive amount of advice and reassurance from others
  • Needs others to assume responsibility for most major areas of his or her life
  • Has difficulty expressing disagreement with others because of fear of loss of support or approval
  • Has difficulty initiating projects or doing things on his or her own (because of a lack of self-confidence in judgment or abilities rather than a lack of motivation or energy)
  • Goes to excessive lengths to obtain nurturance and support from others, to the point of voluntaeering to do things that are unpleasant
  • Feels uncomfortable or helpless when alone because of exaggerated fears of being unable to care for himself or herself
  • Urgently seeks another relationship as a source of care and support when a close relationship ends
  • Is unrealistically preoccupied with fears of being left to take care of himself or herself

People with dependent personality disorder should consider psychotherapy for treatment. This disorder often requires long-term therapy or treatment.


The term ‘codependent’ described persons living with, or in a relationship with an addicted person characterized by preoccupation and extreme dependence—emotional, social and sometimes physical—on another person.” Codependency is a psychological concept that refers to people who feel extreme amounts of dependence on certain loved ones in their lives, and who feel responsible for the feelings and actions of those loved ones.

Signs Of Codependency

The things that have been found to correlate with codependency include:

  • Low self-esteem and low levels of narcissism;
  • Depression, anxiety, stress;
  • Low emotional expressivity;
  • Having a hard time saying no and having poor boundaries;
  • Showing emotional reactivity;
  • Feeling compelled to take care of people;
  • Having a need for control, especially over others;
  • Having trouble communicating honestly;
  • Fixating on mistakes;
  • Feeling a need to be liked by everyone;
  • Feeling a need to always be in a relationship;
  • Denying one’s own needs, thoughts, and feelings;
  • Having intimacy issues;
  • Confusing love and pity;

Mental Dependence vs. Physical Dependence

  • Mental dependence is when use of a substance is a conditioned response to an event or feeling. These are known as “triggers.”Triggers can be emotional responses to events, certain people, places or anything a person associates with using a substance. Something as simple as driving can trigger a desire to use. These triggers set off biochemical changes in a person’s brain that strongly influence addictive behavior.
  • When the symptoms of mental and physical dependence are apparent, an addiction is usually present. However, the main characteristic that distinguishes addiction from dependence is the combination of mental and physical dependence with uncontrollable behavior in obtaining and using a substance.
  • Recognizing the difference between an addiction and substance dependence can help to better understand the nature of addiction. Knowing as much as possible about addiction and dependence can also be a valuable tool in achieving recovery. It is also important to realize that while a dependence may be present without addiction, substance dependencies frequently lead to addiction.

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