Dependent personality disorder

Dependent personality disorder

Dependent personality disorder
Classification and external resources
Specialty Psychiatry
ICD-10 F60.7
ICD-9-CM 301.6
MedlinePlus 000941
MeSH D003859

Dependent personality disorder (DPD), formerly known as asthenic personality disorder, is a personality disorder that is characterized by a pervasive psychological dependence on other people. This personality disorder is a long-term (chronic) condition in which people depend on others to meet their emotional and physical needs, with only a minority achieving normal levels of independence.

The difference between a 'dependent personality' and a 'dependent personality disorder' is somewhat subjective, which makes diagnosis sensitive to cultural influences such as gender role expectations.

A study in 2012 estimated the heritability of DPD to be between 55% and 72%.[1]


  • Epidemiology 1
    • American Psychiatric Association 1.1
    • World Health Organization 1.2
    • Millon's subtypes 1.3
    • Differential diagnosis 1.4
  • See also 2
  • References 3
    • Notes 3.1
    • Sources 3.2
  • External links 4


Dependent personality disorder occurs in about 0.6% of the general population. The disorder is diagnosed more often in females than males; however, research suggests that this is largely due to behavioural differences in interviews and self-reporting rather than a difference in prevalence between the sexes.[2][3] A 2004 twin study suggests a heritability of .81 for developing dependent personality disorder. Because of this, there is significant evidence that this disorder runs in families. [4] Children and adolescents with a history of anxiety disorders and physical illnesses are more susceptible to acquiring this disorder.[5]

American Psychiatric Association

The DSM-IV-TR contains a Dependent Personality Disorder diagnosis. It refers to a pervasive and excessive need to be taken care of which leads to submissive and clinging behavior and fears of separation. This begins by early adulthood and can present in a variety of contexts.[6]

World Health Organization

The ICD-10 lists dependent personality disorder as F60.7 Dependent personality disorder:[7]

It is characterized by at least 3 of the following:
  1. encouraging or allowing others to make most of one's important life decisions;
  2. subordination of one's own needs to those of others on whom one is dependent, and undue compliance with their wishes;
  3. unwillingness to make even reasonable demands on the people one depends on;
  4. feeling uncomfortable or helpless when alone, because of exaggerated fears of inability to care for oneself;
  5. preoccupation with fears of being abandoned by a person with whom one has a close relationship, and of being left to care for oneself;
  6. limited capacity to make everyday decisions without an excessive amount of advice and reassurance from others.
Associated features may include perceiving oneself as helpless, incompetent, and lacking stamina. Includes:
  • asthenic, inadequate, passive, and self-defeating personality (disorder)

It is a requirement of ICD-10 that a diagnosis of any specific personality disorder also satisfies a set of general personality disorder criteria.

Millon's subtypes

Psychologist Theodore Millon identified five adult subtypes of dependent personality disorder.[8][9] Any individual dependent may exhibit none or one of the following:

Subtype Description Personality Traits
Disquieted Including avoidant features Restlessly perturbed; disconcerted and fretful; feels dread and foreboding; apprehensively vulnerable to abandonment; lonely unless near supportive figures.
Selfless Including masochistic features Merges with and immersed into another; is engulfed, enshrouded, absorbed, incorporated, willingly giving up own identity; becomes one with or an extension of another.
Immature Variant of “pure” pattern Unsophisticated, half-grown, unversed, childlike; undeveloped, inexperienced, gullible, and unformed; incapable of assuming adult responsibilities.
Accommodating Including histrionic features Gracious, neighborly, eager, benevolent, compliant, obliging, agreeable; denies disturbing feelings; adopts submissive and inferior role well.
Ineffectual Including schizoid features Unproductive, gainless, incompetent, useless, meritless; seeks untroubled life; refuses to deal with difficulties; untroubled by shortcomings.

Differential diagnosis

The following conditions commonly coexist (comorbid) with dependent personality disorder:[2]

See also




  1. ^ Gjerde et al. 2012.
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ Bornstein, Robert F. (1996-01-01). "Sex Differences in Dependent Personality Disorder Prevalence Rates". Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice 3 (1).  
  4. ^ Coolidge, F.L., Thede, L., Jang, K.L. "Are personality disorders psychological manifestations of executive function deficits? Bivariate heritability evidence from a twin study. Behavior Genetics (2004), pp. 34, 75-84, cited in Nolan-Hoeksema, Abnormal Psychology (6th. ed.), pp. 273, McGraw Hill Education (2014)".  
  5. ^ Nolen-Hoeksema, Susan (2014). Abnormal Psychology (6th. ed.). McGraw Hill Education.  
  6. ^ "Dependent Personality Disorder". 
  7. ^ Dependent personality disorder - International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems 10th Revision (ICD-10)
  8. ^ Millon et al. 2004.
  9. ^ Millon 2006.


  • Beck, Aaron T; Freeman, Arthur (1990). Cognitive Therapy of Personality Disorders. New York: Guilford Press.  
  • Millon, Theodore; Davis, Roger Dale (1996). Disorders of Personality: DSM-IV and Beyond. New York: Wiley.  
  • Millon, Theodore (1981). Disorders of Personality: DSM-III, Axis II. New York: Wiley.  
  • Perry, J. C. (1996). "Dependent personality disorder". In Gabbard, Glen O.; Atkinson, Sarah D. Synopsis of Treatments of Psychiatric Disorders. American Psychiatric Press. pp. 995–8.  
  • Gjerde, L. C.; Czajkowski, N.; Røysamb, E.; Ørstavik, R. E.; Knudsen, G. P.; Østby, K.; Torgersen, S.; Myers, J.; Kendler, K. S.; Reichborn-Kjennerud, T. (2012). "The heritability of avoidant and dependent personality disorder assessed by personal interview and questionnaire". Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica 126 (6): 448–57.  
  • Millon, Theodore; Millon, Carrie M.; Meagher, Sarah; Grossman, Seth; Ramnath, Rowena (2004). Personality Disorders in Modern Life. Wiley.  
  • Millon, Theodore (2006). "Personality Subtypes". 
  • Kantor, Martin (1992). Diagnosis and Treatment of the Personality Disorders. Ishiyaku EuroAmerica.  
  • Ellison, J. M.; Adler, D. A. (1990). "A strategy for the pharmacotherapy of personality disorders". In Adler, David A. Treating Personality Disorders. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. pp. 43–63.  
  • Adler, David A., ed. (1990). Treating Personality Disorders. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.  
  • Richards, Henry Jay (1993). Therapy of the Substance Abuse Syndromes. New York: Jason Aronson.  
  • Zimmerman, Mark (1994). Diagnosing DSM-IV-R Psychiatric Disorders in Primary Care Settings: An Interview Guide for the Nonpsychiatrist Physician. Psych Products.  
  • Ekleberry, Sharon (2014). "Dependent Personality Disorder (DPD)". Treating Co-Occurring Disorders. p. 63–4.  
  • Oldham, John M.; Morris, Lois B. (1990). The Personality Self-portrait: Why You Think, Work, Love, and Act the Way You Do. Bantam.  
  • Sperry, Len (1995). Psychopharmacology and Psychotherapy: Strategies for Maximizing Treatment Outcomes. Psychology Press.  
  • Stone, Michael H. (1993). Abnormalities of Personality: Within and Beyond the Realm of Treatment. Norton.  
  • Benjamin, Lorna Smith (1993). Interpersonal Diagnosis and Treatment of Personality Disorders. Guilford Press.  
  • Benjamin, Lorna Smith (1996). "Dependent Personality Disorder". Interpersonal Diagnosis and Treatment of Personality Disorders. Guilford Press. pp. 221–39.  

External links

  • J. Christopher Perry, M.P.H., M.D., 2005 (Dependent Personality Disorder)
  • Diagnostic Features, Complications, Prevalence, Associated Laboratory Findings
  • MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: Dependent personality disorder