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Codependency Signs & Symptoms

Do you, or someone you know, exhibit the signs of Codependent Behavior?

Are you unable to find satisfaction in your life outside of a specific person, no matter how unhealthy their behavior?

Becoming aware of your codependent traits is the first and most important step in dealing with them. The good news is there are qualified professional therapists who can help those who struggle with codependent lifestyles and relationships. 

Please contact MPA for more information.

What Is Codependency?

Codependency is defined as a person’s obsession to meet the needs of others while sacrificing their own personal needs.

This mental health disorder creates a passive personality that is afflicted by feelings of:

  • Insecurity
  • Shame
  • Deteriorated self-worth

Traditionally, codependency was a term attributed to those with a dependence on drugs or alcohol, or a member of the family, spouse, or life partner.

However, the term has today been broadened to include anyone that has their thoughts and actions focused solely on another person or object.

Roots of Codependency

The roots of codependency are normally linked to childhood where children are pressured or forced to meet the needs of others over their own developing needs.

Children most at risk for developing codependent tendencies include those who grow up with (or experience):

  • Parents that are extremely ill
  • Alcoholics or drug addicted family members
  • Physical, emotional, or sexual abuse

Any of these tragic circumstances can cause a child to develop unhealthy codependent behaviors that carry over into adulthood.

Codependency & Depression

Chronic depression, formerly named Dysthymia ((Dysthymia was renamed “persistent depressive disorder” in the 2013 edition of the Diagnostic Statistical Manual-V. Source: Psych Central » )), is a common symptom of codependency.

Because the symptoms are mild, many codependents often go undiagnosed and untreated.

The high prevalence of codependency, and its causal relation with depression, was mentioned in a 1998 study published in the Archives of Psychiatric Nursing: ((Hughes-Hammer, C., Martsolf, D. S., & Zeller, R. A. (1998). Depression and codependency in women. Archives of Psychiatric Nursing, 12(6), 326–334.))

"Seven million American women are depressed, and 40 million Americans, primarily women, have been labeled as codependent. This study aimed to identify the prevalence of codependency in women undergoing treatment for depression, examine the relationship between codependency and depression, and determine which of the symptoms of codependency are most highly predictive of depression scores." ((ref:5))

Codependency Diagnosis

Codependency is a mental health condition that is extremely difficult to diagnose due to the wide variety of symptoms that can arise.

Many people might be thought of as being ‘people-pleasers’, yet are not necessarily diagnosed as codependent.

There are, therefore, numerous other signs that psychiatrists and psychotherapists seek to identify in order to provide a proper codependency diagnosis.

Codependent Personalities

Besides having a strong desire to serve others over their own needs, those suffering from codependency might also demonstrate:

  • Fear of being alone
  • Fear of failure
  • Denial of personal emotions or desires
  • Reluctance to share their true feelings and thoughts
  • Helplessness
  • Unworthiness
  • Guilt
  • Low self-esteem
  • Desire to control others, and more...

Angry outbursts can be another common trait in codependent patients due to a deep resentment for the ones they are prompted to help. This can lead to a feeling of being trapped, with sufferers sabotaging or lashing out at the ones to whom they are giving care.

Codependency is Recoverable

Being perpetually mired in feelings of inadequacy, worthlessness, and low self-worth typically leads to a wide range of emotional and behavioral problems.

One of the more recognizable codependent behaviors, as seen on many daytime talk shows we won't mention (like "Dr. Phil" (( "Dr. Phil" is a daily talk show, hosted by Phil McGraw, offering advice for the troubles of its guests. Source: Wikipedia » )) ), is the tendency of codependent sufferers to get stuck in never ending patterns of unstable interpersonal relationships.

Fortunately, help can be obtained from counseling sessions provided by mental health care professionals, with the goal of helping patients recognize and maintain healthy, mutually satisfying relationships.

Professional therapists use tools such as cognitive behavioral therapy to identify codependency symptoms in adults as well as children.

They may also recommend one or more specific modalities of therapy, including:

  • Family Therapy
  • Couples Therapy
  • Group Therapy

These therapeutic approaches have been found to help codependent victims significantly.

For more information about codependency, its signs, and available treatment, please contact Montgomery Psychiatry & Associates.