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Dependent Personality Disorder

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How Is DPD Treated?

As is the case with many personality disorders, people with DPD generally do not seek treatment for the disorder itself. Rather, they might seek treatment when a problem in their lives -- often resulting from thinking or behavior related to the disorder -- becomes overwhelming, and they are no longer able to cope. People with DPD are prone to developing depression or anxiety, symptoms that might prompt the individual to seek help.

Psychotherapy (a type of counseling) is the main method of treatment for DPD. The goal of therapy is to help the person with DPD become more active and independent, and to learn to form healthy relationships. Short-term therapy with specific goals is preferred when the focus is on managing behaviors that interfere with functioning. It is often useful for the therapist and patient together to pay attention to the role of therapist in order to recognize and address ways in which the patient may form the same kind of passive reliance in the treatment relationship that happens outside of treatment.  Specific strategies might include assertiveness training to help the person with DPD develop self-confidence and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to help someone develop new attitudes and perspectives about themselves relative to other people and experiences.  More meaningful change in someone's personality structure usually is pursued through long-term psychoanalytic or psychodynamic psychotherapy, where early developmental experiences are examined as they may shape the formation of defense mechanisms, coping styles, and patterns of attachment and intimacy in close relationships.  

Medication might be used to treat people with DPD who also suffer from depression or anxiety. However, medication therapy must be carefully monitored because the person might become dependent on or abuse the drugs.

What Are the Complications of DPD?

People with DPD are at risk for depression, anxiety disorders, and phobias, as well as substance abuse. They are also at risk for being abused because they may find themselves willing to do virtually anything to maintain the relationship with a dominant partner or person of authority.

What Is the Outlook for People With DPD?

With psychotherapy (counseling), many people with DPD can learn how to make more independent choices in their lives.

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