The dependent personality disordered individual suffers from a neediness that is marked by an over reliance on others. His or her emotional and physical needs are dependent on the people closest.
Dependent personality disorder is described as a pervasive and excessive need to be taken care of that leads to submissive and clinging behavior as well as fears of separation. This pattern begins by early adulthood and is present in a variety of contexts. The dependent and submissive behaviors are designed to elicit caregiving and arise from a self-perception of being unable to function adequately without the help of others.
Individuals with dependent personality disorder have great difficulty making everyday decisions (such as what clothes to wear) without an excessive advice and reassurance from others. These individuals tend to be passive and allow other people (normally one other person) to take the initiative and assume responsibility for most major areas of their lives. Adults with this disorder typically depend on a parent or spouse to decide where they should live, what kind of job they should have, and which people to befriend. Adolescents with this disorder may allow a parent to decide the clothes to wear, with whom they should associate, how they should spend free time, and what school or college to attend.
Handing over responsibility is often beyond appropriate requests (such as the specific needs of children, elderly persons, and handicapped persons). These individuals seek support and approval, and therefore cannot express opinions or disagreement, especially with those whom they are dependent. These individuals feel so unable to function alone that they will agree with things that they feel are wrong rather than risk losing the help of those to whom they look for guidance. Individuals with this disorder find it difficult to initiate projects or work independently.
They may go to extreme lengths to obtain nurturance and support from others, even to the point of volunteering for unpleasant tasks if such behavior will bring the care that they need. Individuals with this disorder feel uncomfortable or helpless when alone, because of their exaggerated fears of being unable to care for themselves. When a close relationship ends (such as a breakup with a lover or the death of a caregiver), individuals with dependent personality disorder may urgently seek another relationship to provide the care and support they need. They are often preoccupied with fears of being left to care for themselves.
This condition is inflexible, maladaptive, and can cause dysfunction and distress.