Codependency: Signs, Causes, and How to Get Help

No one enjoys seeing their friends or family deal with a dependency problem, and it is hard to know how to react. But if you know someone who is struggling with a dependency problem, here are five signs that you might be dealing with a co-dependency issue. 

What Is Codependency?

Co-dependency is a relationship between two people in which one partner (the enabler) is unable to cut loose from the relationship. The individual enabling the dependency relationship is hampered by fear, guilt, shame, or their own emotional responses, which prevent them from fully detaching from the relationship.

Codependency is a type of relationship in which one person (the dependent partner) is trapped in an unhealthy, often destructive relationship while feeling unable to leave the relationship for fear of being abandoned altogether. The key characteristics of codependency are a lack of personal identity, a fear of intimacy, and an obsessive need to be liked and approved by another person. Often, the dependent will comply with their partner’s demands in order to feel a sense of normality. Unfortunately, the dependent partner will be unaware that their unhealthy behavior is affecting their relationships.

What Are the Causes of Codependency?

Codependency is an unhealthy pattern that is very prevalent in households today. It is affecting people regardless of age, gender, and even background, yet its symptoms are often ignored. Individuals who suffer from co-dependency are often afraid to get help because they feel as though their problem is somehow their fault. They feel guilty for feeling the way they do, and rather than recognizing their codependency for what it is, they try to hide it by blaming others. The underlying cause of codependency is fear, and when an individual is afraid of themselves, they naturally begin to fear others.

In its most basic definition, Codependency refers to a pattern of behavior in which one individual (the addict) enables another individual (the enabler) to engage in behaviors that both are dependent on. The enabler may be a significant other, family, a stranger, or a friend.

Codependency—also called codependence—is a psychological addiction that can lead to unhealthy behaviors. People with addictive personalities often have low self-esteem and can create an unhealthy relationship with a close loved one. Codependency is often associated with children of alcoholics, but you do not have to be.

Here Are the Signs of Codependency

  • An extreme need for approval or recognition
  • Denial of problems
  • Anxiety or fear about being rejected, judged, or abandoned
  • Intimacy or relationship issues
  • Lying
  • Obsessions
  • A need for control
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Trouble identifying or communicating thoughts, feelings, or needs
  • Chronic anger or strong, emotional reactions
  • Poor boundaries with others
  • Low-self esteem
  • Caretaking

Diagnosis and Screenings for Codependency

Codependency is a condition that affects millions of people, both men and women. While codependency is often associated with spouses, parents, or romantic partners, it can also be caused by family members, friends, co-workers, and even yourself. The condition is characterized by a preoccupation with other people’s problems and a lack of ability to take care of one’s own needs. Codependency is made worse by excessive dependency or overuse on others, including the person suffering from the disorder.

Codependency, also known as enabling, is a disorder characterized by a person’s inability to see past their own needs and boundaries. They always place other people’s needs above theirs. People who live with codependency are practically incapable of taking care of themselves, in some ways even to their own detriment. Codependents are enablers, and when they enable a person, they are, in essence, harming that person. Luckily, there are many resources available to people with codependency disorders, and the first step to getting the help they need is to recognize that you have a problem.

How to Treat Codependency

Codependency is a type of emotional or relationship dependence, often occurring with a loved one who has been diagnosed with a psychological disorder. People who suffer from codependency believe that the wrongs, problems, and issues they experience in their life (both big and small) are the reason for their partner’s issues. This often leads them to use emotional manipulation and criticism in an attempt to control the other person. Codependents seek other people’s validation and are never satisfied with their own state of being.

Codependency is a psychological condition that manifests when an individual cannot regulate their emotions in response to others and experiences. People with codependency often experience intense mood swings, anxiety, depression, and, at times, feelings of emptiness. Codependents often struggle with self-worth and are often in abusive relationships.

Codependency is one of the most difficult and damaging addictions to treat since people are often in denial or unwilling to acknowledge the problem. This reluctance often causes codependency to go untreated, leaving victims struggling with feelings of anger, resentment, and shame they can never escape.

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