Common Co-occurring Disorders: BPD and Dependent Personality Disorder

People who suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) are more likely to experience other mental health or personality disorders than people who don’t. 

Dependent Personality Disorder is one co-occurring disorder that is common in people diagnosed with BPD. The traits of Dependent Personality Disorder often appear in people with other personality disorders, but these are usually hidden by the other disorder’s more dominant characteristics.

What Is Dependent Personality Disorder?

Dependent Personality Disorder is a disorder that commonly co-occurs with Borderline Personality Disorder and shares some traits, although the two are classified among different clusters of personality disorders. Borderline Personality Disorder is classified under Cluster B personality disorders (Dramatic or Erratic Behavior), while Dependent Personality Disorder is classified as Cluster C personality disorders (Anxious or Inhibited Behavior).

People who have Dependent Personality Disorder are overly dependent on others to meet their emotional and physical needs. The cause is unknown, but it is appears to develop in early childhood. It’s one of the most common personality disorders and is equally present in men and women.

People with Dependent Personality Disorder don’t trust themselves when it comes to making decisions and are devastated by separation and loss. They may go to extremes and endure abuse to avoid leaving a relationship.

Both Dependent Personality Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder are long-term behavior patterns that can cause problems at work or with relationships.

Symptoms of Dependent Personality Disorder

Dependent Personality Disorder is marked by the following behaviors:

  • Fear of being alone
  • Difficulty making decisions without help from other people
  • Avoiding responsibility
  • Preoccupation with or fear of abandonment
  • Sensitivity to criticism or disapproval
  • Passivity in interpersonal relationships
  • Difficulty expressing differences of opinion

Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder

Unlike people with Dependent Personality Disorder, people with Borderline Personality Disorder experience anger, impulsivity, and aggressive behaviors. They may struggle with their identity or self-image, and see people in terms of black and white.

Other symptoms of BPD include the following:

  • Feelings of emptiness and boredom
  • Inappropriate anger
  • Impulsive, reckless behavior – either with money, binge eating, substance abuse, sex, or shoplifting
  • Acts of self-harm, such as cutting

People with BPD may also be uncertain about their identity or self-image. They tend to see things in terms of extremes, either all good or all bad. They also typically view themselves as victims of circumstance and take little responsibility for themselves or their problems.

Similar Symptoms of BPD and Dependent Personality Disorder

Symptoms shared by people with Borderline Personality Disorder and Dependent Personality Disorder include the following:

  • Fear of being alone
  • Fear of abandonment
  • Avoiding personal responsibility
  • Difficulty with interpersonal relationships

Personality Disorder Treatment

Therapy and medication may be helpful in treating the symptoms of both Borderline Personality Disorder and Dependent Personality Disorder. The most effective treatment will treat the co-occurring personality disorders at the same time to ensure a more long-term recovery.

A residential or outpatient treatment center for personality disorders will offer therapies such as Dialectical Behavior Therapy that can ease personality disorder symptoms and help you develop healthier coping skills.

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