Are You Codependent?: How to tell and how to break the cycle

In recent decades, our society has become increasingly psychologically savvy. New mental and emotional disorders seem to crop up every day, as do new treatments. However, some disorders that have been around for ages continue to be misunderstood. Codependency is one of these. According to Psych Central and other reputable sources, codependency was once only associated with alcoholics, such that non-addicted spouses were called “co-alcoholics.” But now, considering that “most families in America are [considered] dysfunctional,” codependency is more common and prevalent. Here are ways to tell if you fall into this category and how to cope.Loosely defined, to be codependent means having a “learned behavioral, emotional condition” that prevents “healthy, mutually beneficial” relationships. A relationship like this can be “one-sided” or even abusive in a variety of ways. Yet, even without abuse, these types of relationships can be harmful. Psych Central’s studies report that those who were “raised in a dysfunctional family” or “had an ill parent” are particularly at risk. Other symptoms of a codependent relationship include:

1. Low self-esteem. Codependents often cannot say “no.” They accept negative feedback and criticism as truth and struggle to see the good traits others notice.

2. No boundaries. A codependent person may allow someone else to control their money, take or destroy belongings, abuse them, or isolate them from friends, family, and activities.

3. Extreme caretaking. It’s natural to want to care for others, but a codependent often feels he or she needs to care for everyone, to the point that the other person isn’t expected to care for themselves or take responsibility for actions. Codependents may also use caretaking to manipulate.

4. Addictions. Codependent people aren’t always addicted to alcohol or drugs, but may have other addictions. For example, they may be workaholics or be immersed in a hobby.

If you are codependent, here are ways to get help:

1. Seek cognitive-behavioral therapy. A professional can help you handle emotions such as blame, guilt, or sadness.

2. Codependent people often get so involved in their relationship that they forget what it is to be a whole person. Reacquaint yourself with the whole “you.” Learn something new, meditate or pray, or spend time with friends.

3. Care for yourself. See your doctor if you experience symptoms of severe stress. Drink plenty of water, exercise, and rest whenever you need to, for as long as you need to.