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Dependent Personality Disorder: Diagnostic Criteria

As described in earlier articles on this condition, individuals displaying signs of dependent personality disorder often agree with others to their face due to a profound fear of estrangement and abandonment. Fear of rejection rules their lives and anxiety and panic attacks are common features due to the constant stress of trying to please and appease everyone in their life.

Behaviors such as wanting to be liked by others and being wary of stating one’s own opinion for fear of social rejection are common among general society when looked at in isolation. However, to be given a clinical diagnosis of dependent personality disorder (DPD), five or more of the following personality traits must be present:

  1. The individual has difficulty making everyday decisions without an excessive amount of advice and reassurance from others.
  2. There is a marked difficulty in expressing disagreement with others due to a fear of loss of support or approval. (Note: Does not include realistic fears of retribution).
  3. The person has difficulty initiating projects or doing things on his or her own due to a lack of self-confidence in judgment or abilities rather than a lack of motivation or energy.
  4. The individual goes to excessive lengths to obtain nurturance and support from others, to the point of volunteering to do things that are unpleasant to them.
  5. Feels uncomfortable or helpless when alone because of exaggerated fears of being unable to care for himself or herself.
  6. The sufferer has an overwhelming desire to seek another relationship as a source of love and support when a close friendship ends.
  7. The individual is unrealistically preoccupied with fears of being abandoned to take care of himself or herself.


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