It can be really hard to go it alone. When the going gets tough, it's natural to want to have a team around you to help lift you up, figure things out, or understand how you're feeling. So in some ways, everyone is, to a certain extent, relying on the most important people in their lives. But that's different than dealing with dependent personality disorder. There are some interesting signs you might have dependent personality disorder that might be things you wouldn't expect; things you think are generally run-of-the-mill, but could actually potentially be an indicator that there's something else going on.
"Self-care is an excellent tool for those with DPD because it not only helps with the anxiety component of DPD, but it’s a way for the individual to gain a sense of independence and self-confidence," Dr. Sal Raichbach PsyD, LCSW, of Ambrosia Treatment Center, tells Romper via email. "Meditation, breathing exercises, and mindfulness are all self-care techniques that can help individuals overcome their anxiety and build a sense of self-realization."
Additionally, seeking the help of a qualified therapist can be extremely beneficial. Raichbach cautions that the relationship between you and your therapist, however, can also potentially become dependent, so therapists need to be careful, introducing boundaries to help keep the relationship professional.
Recognizing some of the potential signs of DPD in yourself doesn't necessarily mean that you definitely have the condition, but it's still worth knowing what these sorts of things could mean.
1. You Try To Please People
Trying to make other people happy isn't always a terrible thing, but if you're a people pleaser in an effort to keep that person happy solely because you need that relationship with them, that might be something else than just wanting them to be happy. Someone with dependent personality disorder is emotionally-dependent on people and work hard to please them, Emily Mendez, MS, EdS, a mental health writer and psychology expert, tells Romper by email.
2. You Need Regular Reassurance
People who have dependent personality disorder often need to be reassured that they're doing the right thing, they're loved, they're capable, and more, Raichbach says. Hearing your loved ones say these kinds of things is nice, but relying on and needing the affirmation from someone else is something different.
3. You're Apprehensive About Separations
Change and separation can be difficult for a lot of people, but for those with dependent personality disorder, separations from loved ones can be especially difficult. "They are often clingy, passive, and afraid of separation," Mendez says.
4. You Can't Make Decisions Without Seeking Out Advice
When you're making a big decision, you might seek out the advice of people in your life that you trust: your family, your partner, your best friend, a professional mentor, or someone else. Sometimes these people can give you good advice or see something that you wouldn't see otherwise. That being said, if you can't make any decisions on your own, without knowing what everyone else thinks, that could be an indicator of DPD, Raichbach says.
5. You're Devastated When Relationships Come To An End
The end of significant relationships is difficult for most people. A person who was a large part of your life can be gone, just like that, and you're acclimating to a different everyday life than you were used to before. It's hard. But if you have DPD and were dependent on that person, the end of a relationship can be even more devastating, as Mendez notes. You might feel lost, or start to doubt your ability to handle things on your own.
6. You Struggle To Stand Up For Yourself
Being assertive can sometimes be difficult for a number of reasons. Raichbach says that struggling to stand up for yourself can also be a potential sign of dependent personality disorder. "Dependent personality disorder usually stems from unhealthy relationships that developed early in life, most notably with parental figures," he explains. "Childhood neglect, abuse, and overprotective parenting have a big impact on an individual’s self-esteem and self-confidence. A lack of faith in one’s self, including their abilities and their decision-making, can cause that person to feel reliant on others."
7. You Have A Hard Time Listening To Criticism
Most people probably don't enjoy listening to criticism, even if they appreciate the good that might come out of constructive feedback. And Raichbach says that people who have DPD can be quite sensitive to criticism.
If you think that you might have dependent personality disorder, speaking to a mental health professional and practicing self-care as Raichbach suggests might help you move forward and become more confident in your own abilities.