A person with a passive-aggressive behavior pattern may appear to comply or act appropriately, but actually behaves negatively and passively resists. In the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, passive-aggressiveness is not officially characterized as a personality disorder. Instead, passive-aggressiveness is labeled as an area that needs further study.
The cause of passive-aggressiveness is unknown. There may be environmental and genetic factors that contribute to the development of this behavior pattern.
Factors that may increase your chance of passive-aggressive behavior include:
Passive-aggressive behavior includes:
A mental health professional diagnoses passive-aggressiveness after doing a psychological evaluation. This may include a range of mental health and neurological tests to assess how the brain is functioning.
There is no medication available for passive-aggressiveness. If anxiety or depression is also involved, your doctor may prescribe antidepressants. Antidepressants are medications that ease the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Counseling can help you become aware of the problem and acknowledge the need to change.
American Psychological Association
Mental Health America
Canadian Psychiatric Association
Passive-aggressive personality disorder. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated November 30, 2009. Accessed August 13, 2013.
Personality disorders. Mental Health America website. Available at: http://www.nmha.org/index.cfm?objectId=C7DF8E96-1372-4D20-C87D9CD4FB6BE82F. Accessed August 13, 2013.
Last reviewed June 2015 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.