What Is Teen Dependent Personality Disorder?
Teen Dependent Personality Disorder is a condition where teens are consumed with a dependence upon other people, to the extreme degree where they’re unable to make decisions or form opinions for themselves. Such reliance upon others often results in negative life situations, such as remaining in abusive relationships, inability to move forward, and a reluctance to grow or make positive steps in life.
What It Looks Like
Whereas relationships are a necessary and important part of a healthy life, teens with Dependent Personality Disorder don’t rely upon others for support, but rather, for purpose and the ability to function in normal, every day situations. This condition manifests itself differently depending on the individual, but there are a number of symptoms commonly present in teens with the disorder, including but not limited to:
- Can’t take constructive criticism or feedback
- Doesn’t share personal opinions or beliefs
- Doesn’t initiate activities
- Always has to be in a romantic relationship
- Submits to others, in order to avoid conflict
- Relies on others for feelings of purpose and self-worth
- Hates and fears being alone
- Avoids/refuses to make decisions on their own
- Constantly worries over what others think of them
- Gives over important decisions to others
- Experiences an overwhelming sense of rejection
- Struggles with suicidal thoughts
- Struggles with substance abuse
The consistent, overwhelming experience for those struggling with Teen Dependent Personality Disorder is an overall feeling of low self-worth, which causes them to believe they need others to make any and all decisions to function. Because these dependent relationships are obviously problematic in nature, these teens often end up continuing to believe negative, false beliefs about themselves, and instead, turn their attention to others. This leads to even more destructive behaviors and perceptions of self.
There are four recognized subtypes of Dependent Personality Disorder, including:
Characterized by an incessant need to be in a romantic relationship, resulting in teens abandoning all personal opinions and beliefs, in order to keep the romantic partner pleased, in order to avoid conflict
Characterized by teens being almost childlike in their lack of knowledge and necessary life skills, preventing them from certain life goals and forcing their dependence upon others
Characterized by overall apathy toward life, causing teens to avoid normal life circumstances that require responsibilities of them, and often leading to a secret, isolated lifestyle
Characterized by an almost obsessive-like desire to please others, and only finding self-worth by the approval of others
Depending on the nature of the disorder and the individual circumstances, treatment will address mental, emotional, physical, and behavioral aspects. Treatment can be extremely helpful and successful in helping teens escape these patterns of dependency and self-doubt, as the very nature of therapy means they don’t have to face themselves, or their problems, alone. Along these lines, therapists help teens to recognize the relationships they depend upon and perhaps hide inside of, the doubts they have about themselves, and the fears they have of failing.
With the support and understanding of a therapist, teens can feel acknowledged and un-judged, making it safe for them to share opinions and beliefs, and begin making decisions for their own lives, in a safe environment. This forms the beginning of behavioral reform as well as the underlying belief system necessary for rehabilitation.
Occasionally, medication will also be used to help treat co-existing symptoms such as Depression or Anxiety. In these cases, the disorders will be treated cooperatively, and usually medication will only be prescribed for a short time.
Can I just separate myself from the person, rather than getting treatment?
Sometimes therapeutic treatment involves a first step of stopping the specific substance or addictive behavior. However, in the case of Dependency Disorder, removing yourself from the person, without support in place to make this change, is generally not a good idea. The reason the Dependency is problematic is because it’s so severe, the steps of separation and recovery need to be taken carefully. The last thing we want is for you to feel alone, so getting help before you make this step can put you on the right path toward recovery.