Abuse and Dependent Personality Disorder

Untreated mental health disorders and conditions can make daily life feel overwhelming. The fallout that can occur in the wake of untreated mental health disorders has become even more apparent since 2020. Up to 13% of people with increased symptoms of anxiety or depression have started or increased their use of substances since the beginning of the pandemic. Moreover, personality disorders like dependent personality disorder (DPD) may make everyday interactions, tasks, and decision-based activities particularly stressful.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), personality disorders like dependent personality disorder are made up of seemingly fixed patterns of experience and behavior. These unhealthy thought and behavioral patterns make it difficult for people to engage in different situations without feeling distressed.

What Is Dependent Personality Disorder?

MedlinePlus states that DPD is a mental health disorder in which people rely on others to meet and support their emotional and physical needs. The disorder is more common than one might think. It often starts to present in childhood equally among boys and girls.

As a 2020 article from Cureus notes, DPD shares a lot of features with borderline personality disorder (BPD), as the two disorders are often comorbid. This article also notes early childhood experiences like upbringing, socially-observed learning, and trauma play a major role in the development of the disorder. 

Signs and Symptoms of Dependent Personality Disorder

Treating a mental health disorder starts with recognizing a mental health disorder. Listed below are some of the signs and symptoms of DPD:

  • Signs
    • Difficulty making decisions
    • Little or no trust in own ability to make decisions
    • Becomes extremely upset by separation or loss
    • Goes to great lengths, even enduring abuse, to maintain relationships
  • Symptoms
    • Frequently avoids being alone
    • Avoids personal responsibility
    • Is easily hurt by criticism or disapproval
    • Can become overly focused on fears of being abandoned
    • More likely to be passive in relationships
    • Extreme upset or helpless feelings when relationships end
    • Difficulties making decisions without the support of others
    • Issues expressing disagreements with others

The signs and symptoms of DPD highlight an unhealthy set of relationship dynamics. DPD puts people at great risk for abusive relationships. With DPD, individuals may find it difficult to disconnect from relationships, even when they are unhealthy, because they feel dependent on the other person.

Correlation Between Dependent Personality Disorder and Abuse

According to an article from the Psychiatry Research Journal, high levels of emotional dependency can increase the likelihood that individuals will experience domestic abuse. In the case of women with DPD, one factor for increased rates of domestic abuse may stem from people with DPD being less likely to seek help.

Seeking help to remove oneself from domestic violence can be incredibly difficult with DPD. Those who experience it feel deeply reliant on their partner for things like financial and emotional support. Moreover, these individuals may feel unable to disconnect from harmful relationships when they live with thinking patterns and experiences that cause them to doubt their ability to make decisions for themselves.  

Therefore, an important part of long-term recovery from DPD and its co-occurring disorders is therapy. In some cases, medication in conjunction with therapy can support long-term recovery from mental health disorders. However, everyone’s experiences and needs are unique to them. Working with a clinician can support individuals in building a plan of care that makes sense for them.

Treatment Options

Many therapeutic modalities can be used to support individuals on their recovery journey. Therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can be a valuable modality for treating DPD. As noted by Cureus, CBT can help people understand their life experiences like childhood trauma. This way, they can relearn how to relate to their past, which shifts thought and behavioral patterns.

How people think about themselves is a fundamental part of the way they interact with others and experience life. Countless experiences throughout individuals’ lives can contribute to feelings of inadequacy and loneliness. However, with support, they can build tools to help them reevaluate their beliefs and behavior. By examining negative emotions, thoughts, and actions, they can learn how to lead an independent life.

When they deconstruct their beliefs about themselves, they can rebuild healthier thinking and behavior patterns. With healthier thinking and behavior patterns, they can start to find value and fulfillment within themselves rather than needing validation from others. Finding independence through therapeutic support can help people in building a healthier version of themselves and healthier relationships with others.

Long-Term Recovery With 12 South Recovery

The work we do at 12 South Recovery is client-centered and highly individualized. Everyone’s experiences and needs are unique to them. We want to support each person who walks through our doors to build a recovery plan that makes sense for them. At 12 South, we know customizable therapy is an integral part of recovery. Therefore, we are committed to offering a variety of therapeutic modalities that can be tailored to each client’s specific needs. 

Moreover, we know that many experiences and unhealthy relationships are interconnected. Understanding the comorbid reality of mental health disorders, personality disorders, and experiences is important for long-term recovery. When people understand how their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors intersect with their experiences, they can start building a stronger foundation.

If mental health disorders like dependent personality disorder are left untreated, they can harm your ability to function and support unhealthy relationships. Living with DPD may make you feel inadequate and unable to trust in your own decisions, which limits you from setting and achieving meaningful goals. However, with support, you can learn to deconstruct those negative patterns to build a healthier you. At 12 South Recovery, we believe in a client-centered approach to care because how you experience life and mental health is unique to you. Therefore, with our evidence-based modalities, we are committed to working with you to build a treatment plan designed for your specific needs. To learn more, call us at 866-839-6876.

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