The Burden Of Excessive Dependency And How We Can Conquer It


Dependent personality disorder (DPD) and anxiety may seem like confusing terms. Many of us question if our neediness and co-dependency are healthy. So what is DPD? It is a mental personality disorder that associates with anxiety and depression symptoms. DPD individuals tend to present with a more submissive personality and constantly require a close relationship to support them.1 Individuals with DPD have an exaggerated need to be taken care of, leading to a strong reliance on others. In this article, we will explore this mental health condition, what it feels like to live with DPD, and treatment options associated with the disorder.

Do I have DPD, or am I just co-dependent? 

While individuals with DPD may have symptoms that heavily overlap with co-dependency, there are minor differences that we can look out for to make a distinction. Firstly, co-dependency has not been recognized as a mental disorder. DPD involves a strong dependency on others in general, whereas co-dependency usually involves a specific person, such as a partner or family member.2

When managing a life with DPD, individuals will not feel in control of their actions and constantly seek validation. They would tolerate verbal, physical, and even in extreme cases, sexual abuse. On the flip side, there can be DPD abusers, too, resorting to potentially violent mannerisms to maintain a close relationship.3 Thus it is important to identify what you are struggling with and employ self-assessment tools and seek help to manage symptoms.

Types of medications used to tackle DPD


DPD is typically diagnosed with depression that induces negative or unwanted thoughts. Antidepressant drugs such as Fluoxetine (known as Prozac) that contain serotonin are commonly prescribed to treat depressive disorders. However, it is important to note that initial exposure to antidepressants may worsen symptoms. The first exposure to an antidepressant might encourage worse symptoms that mimic panic disorders, depressive moods, and even self-harm. It is thus important to carefully pace your dosage and follow professional advice when taking such medication.

Anti Anxiety medications

Anti-anxiety medication can also be prescribed to DPD patients. Anti-anxiety medications like Alprazolam or Xanax ( prescribed in America ) and Sertraline ( prescribed in the UK ) can be very helpful in managing symptoms. Such medications are known as Selective Serotonin reuptake inhibitors, which essentially increase the ‘happiness’ chemical, i.e., serotonin, in the brain. Once again, it is important to note the symptoms of such medications, such as nausea, dry mouth, and loss of appetite.  A range of other medications and therapies are present to tackle anxiety-related struggles.3


Antipsychotic medication is used on patients that are diagnosed with Bipolar, Schizophrenia, and Borderline personality disorder (BPD). 

DPD and BPD are types of personality disorders that can intertwine as they both feel lonely, have abandonment issues, do not want any responsibilities, and are struggling to have a stable relationship. 

However, to distinguish BPD from DPD, the difference is that BPD needs to be in control of a situation, whereas DPD is a submissive trait7

Prescribing antipsychotic medication to a proposed DPD is common to reduce anxiety. However, a restriction is placed on antipsychotic medication, DPD has to do with personality disorder, and yet the medication is only used for severe mental illness. 

Overview of Medication Management for DPD

 In conclusion, DPD is a personality disorder that requires a personalized treatment approach. Depressive medication can be given to limit negative thoughts like obsessive-compulsive disorder; the person can be obsessed with uncontrolled desire, which causes anxiety.4 Prozac drug is used to treat depressive disorder, and alprazolam medication tackles anxiety.

Antipsychotic medication treats disorders classified as cluster C personality disorders like histrionic personality disorder, unstable emotional distress triggering panic attacks, and extreme dramatic reactions.9 Other disorders include schizoid disorder and borderline personality disorder.8

How medications work in DPD

All treatment methods target certain chemicals in the brain known as neurotransmitters. Certain signals are inadequately fired or restricted and need balancing via medication to stimulate and enhance mood regulation.

Targeting symptoms

Starting with Prozac medication, the drug works to inhibit the reabsorption of serotonin, a chemical that plays a role in moods. Prozac increases the level of serotonin and stabilizes mood regulation, treating depression and anxiety, which are symptoms of DPD.10

The patient's DPD case needs a thorough investigation before prescribing alprazolam (Xanax) as this drug is not a cure. Nevertheless, treatment with medication suppresses anxiety, which in some cases can lead to an addiction. The drug targets symptoms such as panic disorder and social anxiety disorder.11

Antipsychotic medication is taken to reduce the chances of anxiety relapse. The medication will be effective if the drug is well diagnosed to the patient, like having extreme anxiety12

Balancing brain chemicals

Medication is not the only treatment. Consuming food high in amino acid tryptophan like - egg whites, chicken, peanuts, and cheese, helps to balance out serotonin levels. Stable serotonin helps with emotional focus and can prevent depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and panic disorder.10 

Taking antipsychotic drugs effect and alter brain chemicals like serotonin that are reflective of mood. Therapy is the best alternative to tackle DPD as it encourages an individual with DPD to resolve their dependency.12   

Addressing underlying causes

A very common cause of developing dependent personality disorder is childhood trauma associated with various types of abuse. An example of this can be abusive relationships. Such relationships can lead to avoidant tendencies and anxious attachment styles. The resulting behaviors that translate in the person are - constant criticizing and lowering of self-esteem, struggling with being alone, and being incapable of making decisions daily.1

Medication treatment guidelines for DPD

Prescription by a specialist

All medication against depression and anxiety should be prescribed by a mental health expert. As treatment medications can be considered abusive substances that may disrupt the brain’s chemicals and signals, potentially leading to damage or addiction. An expert working with a DPD patient should collaborate with their patient to revisit their trauma as part of the therapeutic process to reduce DPD symptoms.1

Individualized treatment plan

Medical treatment might encourage other types of personality disorders among those with DPD. 

Yet, home remedies or medications should be tailored to DPD patients as trauma, and DPD levels differ for each patient.  

The DPD patient will go through the diagnosed and statistical manual of mental disorders (DSM-5) criteria.1

  • Fear of abandonment 
  • Anxious to be alone 
  • Cannot manage society's expectations
  • Fear of losing support 
  • Strong drive to be dependent 
  • Lack of confidence when starting a task 
  • Desperate to find a new relationship

Regular monitoring and adjustments

Monitoring DPD is key to progression; long-term therapy can treat DPD. However, there is always a risk that the DPD patient can become dependent on their therapist. Cognitive therapy helps with transitioning from dependent to independent by working on turning negative attributes into positive attributes. Therapy sessions must be supervised to help DPD patients to get at ease with society's demands as well as analyze and prescribe the right medication.1

Potential side effects of medications for DPD

Common side effects

A misdiagnosed patient can experience organ dysfunction, for example, cirrhosis, urine problem, sexual dysfunction, and more concerning damage with Prozac.4

Being diagnosed with alprazolam can lead to oversedation and overdose. Mixing alprazolam with other drugs can cause the patient to self-harm.

In 2017, anti-anxiety medications were listed as poisoning among young adults.5 The medication enhances the neurotransmitter's activities in the brain.  Mental health experts need to assess DPD cases before officially prescribing Alprazolam.6

The side effects of these medications may include diabetes and weight gain. 

Therefore, mental health professionals must thoroughly assess and evaluate individuals diagnosed with mental health disorders.8

Risks and benefits of medication

There is a long list of complications, such as sweating, muscle stiffness, loss of coordination, and hallucination could cause more damage to the body than could cause a syndrome.4 

Xanax's effects slow down your breathing, and for worse complications like having a seizure, hallucination, or jaundice from this medication should seek medical attention. Even if we stop taking the medication, we could still experience mood and change of behavior.6

There are many antipsychotic treatments, and their side effects differ from each other. 

Less common side effects

Cultural impact is less common as cultural and religious practices, passivity, and politeness are not included in DPD diagnosis1

Alternative treatment options for DPD


Before medication, mental health professionals will recommend psychotherapy; talk therapy. 

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a psychotherapy that helps to promote self-confidence and self-exploration, leading to more positivity in relationships. The therapist may also provide depressive medication in combination with CBT, working on DPD’s interpersonal relationships on a deep level1.  

Physical therapy

This is recommended to prevent self-harm and heal from childhood abuse. DPD individuals can suffer from abusive relationships. The DPD individual does not want to break away from their dependency. A physical examination can be provided by the mental health carer to monitor signs of abuse. The goal is to form a proper diagnosis and a tailored treatment plan.1 

Complementary and alternative medicine

Home remedies can relieve DPD. Engaging in physical exercise can change the mind. Activities such as swimming, yoga, hiking, and jogging can relieve anxiety and depression and promote a healthy attitude. Psychologists suggest keeping a diary as a self-reflection. Exploring their past trauma through writing can be an efficient way to heal.13 

Herbal teas and flower infusions are alternatives to medication. Evidence shows they have protective properties against anxiety.13


Being diagnosed with DPD is difficult, and additionally, other underlying personality disorders can be triggered if patients are not followed by an expert. DPD creates an opportunity of being abused in a closed relationship. For example, a victim of domestic violence can be a DPD individual. 

A proper investigation of the patient's mental history in a psychotherapy session is required to have the full diagnosis and prognosis of a victim or the abuser.


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  3. Causes and traits of dependent personality disorder [Internet]. BrightQuest Treatment Centers. [cited 2023 Apr 30]. Available from:
  4. Prozac uses dosage, side effects & warnings [Internet]. [cited 2023 Apr 30]. Available from:
  5. Alprazolam (Xanax): what are the facts? - uk health security agency [Internet]. 2018 [cited 2023 Apr 30]. Available from:
  6. Xanax: uses, dosage, side effects & warnings [Internet]. [cited 2023 Apr 30]. Available from:
  7. Dependent personality disorder: what is dpd? [Internet]. Psych Central. 2021 [cited 2023 Apr 30]. Available from:
  8. Beeston A. Antipsychotics prescribed to people with personality disorders [Internet]. NIHR Evidence. 2022 [cited 2023 Apr 30]. Available from:
  9. Histrionic personality disorder: causes, symptoms & treatment [Internet]. Cleveland Clinic. [cited 2023 Apr 30]. Available from:
  10. Serotonin: what is it, function & levels [Internet]. Cleveland Clinic. [cited 2023 Apr 30]. Available from:
  11. How does xanax use affect the brain? Short-term and long-term effects [Internet]. The Recovery Village Drug and Alcohol Rehab. [cited 2023 Apr 30]. Available from:
  12. Antipsychotics [Internet]. 2023. Available from:,dopamine%20receptors%20in%20the%20brain.
  13. Rivera A. What is dependent personality disorder? - [Internet]. 2022 [cited 2023 Apr 30]. Available from:
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Suruthy Mary Joseph

Bachelor in Biomedical Science (IBMS)- BSc in University of Portsmouth

Suruthy has established 10 years of education in medical science and provides a strong writing background in advanced medical research. Suruthy undertook projects of her own and succeeded in Biomedical data. She is still eager to research and undercover clinical trials to educate the general public on various health problems and benefits. She incorporates her knowledge of traditional natural remedies in her research and writing. She is currently writing essays on various diseases at Klarity.

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