Having people you can rely on for emotional support is always a good thing and is a necessary part of healthy everyday functioning. However, for some, the need to have someone close by can be so extreme that it interferes with even the simplest of activities. If someone you know finds it difficult to do almost anything without lots of input from other people, then they might have a dependent personality disorder.
Dependent personality disorder (DPD) is a mental condition in which someone develops extreme attachments to other people that results in a substantial decrease in autonomy and independent functioning. People with DPD have an extreme fear of being separated from loved ones and often appear “clingy” from an outside perspective as they cannot emotionally handle acting independently. DPD causes individuals to require constant approval and advice from others, even when it’s completely unnecessary.
Individuals with DPD will often refrain from revealing their own opinions or will take on the opinions of others if they think appearing independent will create any sort of divide, even if it’s a negligible one. This can have very drastic long-term consequences, as people with DPD will very frequently avoid doing things they want to do or will decide to engage in undesirable activities to keep other people happy. This almost always leads to lots of emotional distress, but DPD individuals feel powerless to stop it, as doing anything to resolve the situation might push people away.
It’s not uncommon for DPD sufferers to develop an intense relationship with someone else once a long-standing relationship has ended. Due to their inability to function without the constant support of others, people with DPD will seek out other potential relationship partners who can satisfy their emotional needs. This can cause many issues to arise in their personal lives and, unfortunately, leaves them in a position where they are susceptible to entering abusive situations.
If you think someone you know might have DPD, it would be a good idea to suggest that they go see a licensed therapist. There are several different possible treatments for the condition, including psychotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy. DPD often coincides with other mental health issues such as depression or anxiety, which can also be treated to ensure positive long-term outcomes.