morningsunshine22
A:

Hi morningsunshine22!

Nice to be in touch with you. This is a good question.

People who are codependent tend to get involved with troubled, needy, sometimes abusive people. They give and give and give, without getting much back, if anything. But they keep giving. People who are codependent tend to have low self esteem, and are also often anxious. They can't just be in a relationship and enjoy it for what it is but, instead, have to be constantly taking care of the other person, enabling them, trying to fix them. Codependency is cycle that the codependent person may recognize but still not know how to break out of. It is not unlike an addiction in that way.

In my experience, individuals with bipolar disorder, anxiety or depression are not necessarily codependent. But based on the definition, you can see that they may in some ways be a connection. I have read that codependency can be a trigger for a bipolar episode in some individuals. And you can see how anxiety about relationships, about being loved, could result in codependency. And that constant feeling of emptiness and disappointment that codependent people may feel could contribute to depression.

As for addiction, you have probably discussed codependency in any treatment or 12 step programs that you may have been involved in. Codependency and addiction often go hand in hand, with the addicted individual enabled by a codependent partner or family member. And, as you said in your question, something that you are questionning in yourself.

What I can say with confidence is that codependency is treatable. It starts with recognizing one's own codependence and deciding to do something about it. With education, treatment, and support, you can learn to have relationships that do not revolve around being a caregiver only, but also receiving the love and care that you, in turn, deserve.

I read "Codependent No More" 20 years ago or more. I think that it is an incredibly powerful book, one that I often recommend to my clients.

Thanks a lot for taking time to ask this great question. I hope that I was helpful!

Stay in touch!

Gary

Answered By Answered by Dr GaryCA
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Lori Byrnes
Lori Byrnes October 24, 2012 at 7:07 pm   

I was very co-dependant when I was married to my first husband, who was an alcoholic, and later on a drug addict. I did everything to try to "fix" him-put him into rehab twice, which he signed himself out of after only a short time. I kept telling myself that things would get better, when actually they only got worse. I didn't suffer from depression or anxiety at the time, only anger that I had gotten myself into the situation. After 6 years, I went back to school to become a nurse so that I could support myself and get out of the situation. For those of you who are thinking "why did you stay so long?, my ex was physically abusive, threatened to kill me if I tried to leave, and held a loaded gun to my head one night when he was drunk on hard liquor. I had to wait until he went to work and have my co-workers come and move me. I realized during that marriage that I was co-dependant, and swore not to ever date or marry someone like that again. Now I have a loving husband who has stayed with me through thick and thin and supported me during my injuries and being unable to work. I read a post from someone who said that her husband came to her and told her that he didn't love her anymore and was tired of her pain and her doctor bills, leaving her in a 4 bedroom house with no car and no way to support herself. To me that is horrible. I was afraid in the beginning that my husband would get tired of caring for me, and that is when my depression and anxiety started.

Gary, I'm very thankful that you give such wonderful advice and that you are my friend.

solitude
solitude October 24, 2012 at 5:14 pm   

I mean Morning..sorry

solitude
solitude October 24, 2012 at 5:13 pm   

Dr. Gary thank you for this..I am certain that a dear friend of mine is a codependent. She is constantly giving money to people —her family all the time. She gives money to her nieces, nephews etc…She also claims she is not a rich woman. Then she complains they do not use it efficiently. Her son is 50 years old and did not even seek work for 2 years because his mother paid his mortgage. I can tell she is totally in the dark that she is doing this. She will not take help from anyone. She can barely walk because she is old and has bad knees. I do not say anything to her because I do not want to ruin our friendship. I just pray that she sees the light. It is amazing to me that she can not see what she is doing. I always thought of her as a type of an addict. However, she is a great person with a wonderful heart.

Thanks Megan also for the great question//

solitude
solitude October 24, 2012 at 5:13 pm   

Dr. Gary thank you for this..I am certain that a dear friend of mine is a codependent. She is constantly giving money to people —her family all the time. She gives money to her nieces, nephews etc…She also claims she is not a rich woman. Then she complains they do not use it efficiently. Her son is 50 years old and did not even seek work for 2 years because his mother paid his mortgage. I can tell she is totally in the dark that she is doing this. She will not take help from anyone. She can barely walk because she is old and has bad knees. I do not say anything to her because I do not want to ruin our friendship. I just pray that she sees the light. It is amazing to me that she can not see what she is doing. I always thought of her as a type of an addict. However, she is a great person with a wonderful heart.

Thanks Megan also for the great question//

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