Dependent personality disorder

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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]


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 0.81 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[edit]

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[edit]

The World Health Organization's 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.


  • 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[edit]

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[edit]

The following conditions commonly coexist (comorbid) with dependent personality disorder:[10]

See also[edit]




  1. ^ Gjerde et al. 2012.
  2. ^[full citation needed]
  3. ^ Bornstein, Robert F. (1996-01-01). "Sex Differences in Dependent Personality Disorder Prevalence Rates". Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice 3 (1). doi:10.1111/j.1468-2850.1996.tb00054.x. 
  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)". ISBN 978-0-07-803538-8. 
  5. ^ Nolen-Hoeksema, Susan (2014). Abnormal Psychology (6th. ed.). McGraw Hill Education. ISBN 978-0-07-803538-8. 
  6. ^ "Dependent Personality Disorder". [unreliable source?]
  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.
  10. ^ "Internet Mental Health - dependent personality disorder". Retrieved 2014-05-12. 


External links[edit]