Symptoms of Dependent Personality Disorder

To be diagnosed with dependent personality disorder according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5th edition, an individual must exhibit a persistent and excessive need to be taken care of, resulting in submissiveness and clinging, as seen through five or more of the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty making everyday decisions without an excessive amount of guidance and reassurance from someone else
  • Requiring someone else to be responsible for important aspects of life
  • Trouble disagreeing with others, fearing alienation
  • Problems initiating projects due to lack of confidence in judgment and abilities
  • Willingness to go to great lengths, even doing extremely unpleasant tasks or making great sacrifices, to get support and approval from someone else
  • Feeling helpless and uneasy when alone, fearing an inability to care for self
  • Intense desire to replace a relationship that has ended with a new relationship and someone who will provide care and support
  • Obsessive fear of being left alone to take care of self

Does Dependent Personality Disorder Affect Men and Women Differently?

Dependent personality disorder does not appear to affect men and women differently, but it is diagnosed in women more than men. Men also are less likely to seek help from a mental health treatment center for dependent personality disorder. Some researchers believe that gender bias may account for the disparity in diagnoses and treatment. The idea is that social roles have conditioned men and women to manifest personality traits in different ways. And, society tends to view those manifestations as either feminine or masculine. Thus, while men and women may both exhibit dependent behaviors, women tend to express dependence as submissiveness and neediness.

On the other hand, men tend to be more self-effacing and clingy in ways that could be perceived as aggressive, simply because they are male. Studies have shown that doctors may assign personality disorders, where symptoms are typically viewed as socially feminine, to females while overlooking the same symptoms in males. The result is that men generally are not diagnosed with conditions like dependent personality disorder unless the symptoms are unusually pronounced.

In a nutshell, because symptoms of dependent personality disorder are considered feminine by definition, they are attributed more often to women than to men.


Men who suffer from dependent personality disorder can find help at a mental health treatment center that deals with personality disorders. Treatment for dependent personality disorder generally includes cognitive behavioral therapy, group therapy, psychodynamic therapy and, in some cases, medication.

Sources Existence, Causes and Solutions of Gender Bias in the Diagnosis of Personality Disorders – Dependent Personality Disorder ROLE AND PERSONALITY DISORDERS – 4Working With Specific Populations of Men in Behavioral Health Settings


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