Dependent personality disorder (DPD) is a condition involving an over-reliance on others to meet emotional and/or physical needs. This disorder is the most frequently diagnosed disorder among anxious personality disorders. Because it is believed that mind and body are mutually dependent, there are multiple influences on healthy and less healthy physical and emotional development. The biopsychosocial theory is an existing perspective stating that most disorders may be a direct or indirect result of biological, psychological, and social factors. According to the theory, the etiology for DPD is a result of biological, psychological, and sociocultural dynamics.
The signs of the disorder typically begin in early to middle adulthood in both men and women. Some symptoms include inability to make decisions or meet ordinary demands of life, feelings of devastation or helplessness when relationships end, being preoccupied with fears of being abandoned, and a consistency of avoiding responsibility. It can drastically affect ones life by leading to depression, alcohol or drug abuse, and makes one susceptible to physical, emotional, and sexual abuse.
Although there are no proven causes for the development of DPD, "it most likely involves both biological and developmental factors" (Haines 2005). "It is suggested that genetic factors account for a relatively small portion of variability in dependency levels" (Ekleberry
2000). Although it is mentioned that only a diminutive amount of dependency issues can be genetic, a twin experiment was completed that shows there is potential for a larger genetic piece that is responsible for certain traits.
Theoretically, dependent personality disorder should reflect particularly the facets of altruism, compliance, and modesty. MZ twin studies show a .53 correlation in altruism and a .25 correlation in DZ twins, with dependent personality disorder; suggesting a genetic piece in the formation of potentially maladaptive traits (Nigg, J.T., Goldsmith, H.H. 1996).