Dependent Personality Disorder

Someone I know has been diagnosed with dependent personality disorder. How may I best be supportive of/helpful to them?

I’m not sure if this is the right place to put this thread, so feel free to move it somewhere else. Thanks.

It sounds like he already has a psychiatrist.

The first thing that came to mind was to let your friend work out his problem on his own. The last thing he needs is support!

But then, everyone needs support in some way.

Maybe your friend should ask his psychiatrist what role his friends should play and then he can tell you.

This one is a toughie.

The chances you can improve someone with any personality disorder are minimal.
Don’t bother with trying to fix it, other than recommending professional help and in this case, avoiding getting sucked into the neediness.

Professional help won’t change them either, but it gets it off your task list.
Save your resources for something else.

First: I am not a licensed therapist. I am a lay person so these are only my opinions, not actual suggested treatment options or ideas.

Personality disorders are, IMO, many times overdiagnosed/misdiagnosed. The less professional practitioners hang these types of labels on people that they feel are annoying in some way, or particularly difficult to treat. I’m saying this after eight years of experience as a social worker, with many of my clients being mentally ill individuals.

Chances are, your friend is being told that he/she can never recover, or some other form of what Chief Pedant said, above. This is the popular viewpoint and actually promotes lack of progress in these individuals, as they are given an authoritative “reason” why they have such tremendous trouble getting better. I realize that my viewpoint is counter to the mainstream, but it’s my opinion that the so-called “personality disorders” are often manifestations of grossly maladaptive learned behaviors which, with persistence and hope, can be managed and even successfully treated (ie cured) through cognitive/behavioral interventions.

With those caveats on the table, I would recommend treating your friend with compassion, listening to what s/he has to say about life, treatment etc, and providing encouragement. Someone who has been diagnosed with “Dependent Personality Disorder” is likely to be someone who relies too heavily on the opinions of others; therefore, in order to promote change, I would also recommend turning evaluative questions back to your friend, as in (friend: “Do you think I did the right thing?” You: “I don’t know… does it match your idea of how someone should behave in that situation?”). Instead of catering to your friend’s maladaptive behavior you refuse to do so, assisting your friend in ever so small ways in becoming more independent from outside viewpoints. Hopefully, your friend has a great therapist who is also supporting him/her in getting away from a submissive and dependent way of interacting, so your encouragement in this way would also support treatment.

Perhaps I should rephrase this. I have finally been diagnosed as Bipolar 2. But for a long time I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder and I was subjected to those who would tell me that it was all in my head and that I just needed to get over it…

I’m not trying to be his doctor and I don’t think it’s my job to improve him. I’m just trying to figure out how to make it through a conversation full of obvious DPD traits without telling him to “Get a Grip.” I simply do not know how to respond to the statements that are thrown at me and I definitely don’t want to be hurtful.

Thank you, Oregon Sunshine. I think you and I think somewhat alike. Please check your PMs.

What kind of statements? How close are you to him? Maybe you should tell him your concerns.