Can Dependent Personality Disorder Be Prevented?
Published on April 14th, 2017
Updated on March 13th, 2022
Dependent personality disorder (DPD) is a disorder that causes a person to feel dependent on others. A person with DPD often has an intense fear of abandonment. This fear of abandonment affects the relationships the affected person has with others. It causes them to feel insecure, which affects their sense of self-worth.
Dependent personality disorder causes a person to be ‘clingy’ or ‘needy’. Considering the insecurities that come with DPD, relationships are often strained.
It is unclear why people develop DPD. There may be no single cause. However, there are factors that may contribute to the development of this condition.
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Similarities Between Cases of Dependent Personality Disorder
Patients with dependent personality disorder do not have a single pattern of behavior that causes the condition. While each case has its differences, there have been similarities found between cases. These similarities suggest there are factors that make a person a higher risk for DPD. Such similarities that may be seen in a person with DPD include:
Many people who have DPD struggled with separation anxiety as children. Separation anxiety causes a child to feel distressed when without a parent nearby. A child with separation anxiety will become afraid when left alone. This causes them to act out until the parent returns.
If left unresolved, the symptoms will worsen. It can cause the affected child to develop insecure attachments with others. Many adults with DPD suffered from separation anxiety as children.
Many people with DPD also suffer from chronic illness. They also suffer from mental health conditions, like anxiety and depression. Chronic illness and mental health conditions can cause a person to rely on the support of others.
A person with chronic illness may suffer from feelings of inadequacy and insecurity. This is often due to not being able to sufficiently care for themselves. Many people with chronic illness depend on others for physical and emotional support. This trend affects their sense of self-esteem and self-worth. They are not able to take care of themselves sufficiently because of their illness.
Their dependence on others often results in a dependent personality. It also causes a fear of abandonment. A person with chronic illness and DPD may believe they cannot survive without the support of another person. This causes extreme reactions and sensitivity to the idea of being abandoned.
There will be mental health consequences, like feelings of worthlessness or helplessness. These consequences will cause a person to feel desperate to stay in a person’s good graces. Potential abandonment from another will cause emotional distress for a person with DPD.
Symptoms of Dependent Personality Disorder
Dependent personality disorder is considered a personality disorder. A Personality disorder can have symptoms that are challenging to identify and treat.
Because it is unclear how people develop DPD there is no single way to prevent it from developing. What we do know about DPD are the major symptoms:
- Low self-esteem
- Fear of abandonment
In knowing this, it is possible to develop a plan to reduce the symptoms and onset of DPD.
How to Prevent Dependent Personality Disorder
A person is diagnosed with DPD in adulthood. The symptoms listed above can begin to show in childhood and adolescence. The best way to prevent or reduce the symptoms of DPD is to address them as young as possible. To do this, it is important to teach the child about healthy coping strategies. This can help the affected child develop a healthier self-esteem. As a result, they will be more resilient and less affected by rejection in the future.
To combat low self-esteem, an affected person should practice self-esteem building exercises. These exercises can be effective for both children and adults. To build a positive self-image, the affected person builds a sense of self-confidence. They also are encouraged to develop autonomy and independence.
Helping a person build confidence and self-esteem will reduce the fear of abandonment. If a person believes they will be able to take care of themselves, they are less likely to be dependent on others.
The goal in preventing DPD is to build trust in ‘the self’. This helps the affected person feel secure. When they feel secure, they are able to keep themselves well despite the actions of others.
Focusing energy in building confidence and self-esteem will reduce ‘neediness’. If a person feels they can depend on themselves, there is no need for them to feel dependent on others.
This process of building self-esteem and self-confidence takes time. It is important to stay patient with people who are working to build self-esteem. With patience and consistency, boosting self-confidence, self-esteem and self-worth can prevent DPD.
Dependent personality disorder can also be treated in adulthood. Treatment will be similar to prevention exercises. In adulthood, DPD is more challenging to overcome. This is why it is important to take preventative measures as early as possible.