Does Mental Health Affects Relationships

As human beings, relationships are one of the most important aspects of our lives. Various factors play crucial roles in keeping relationships stronger such as, trust, care, love, compassion, companionships, honesty etc. However, sometimes despite all these positive factors strongly present in a families/marriages-relationship derails and left people shocked.

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How Unhealthy Mental Health Affects Relationships?

Generally, when relationships fail people blame either individuals or situations or both. For the most part, they totally miss the acknowledged role of unhealthy mental health as a possible factor of a broken relationship and symptoms get ignored until it starts affecting the relationship adversely.

Affects of Mental Illness relationships:

  • Burnout- People often reported experiencing emotional exhaustion as they manage the day-to-day of living with a family/partner with mental illness.
  • Trust and insecurity issue: Mental illness increases insecurity, decreases opportunity for bonding and results in unmet needs.
  • Intimacy issues: Staying with someone with mental illness may present challenges with intimacy along with difficulty in other aspects of life. Negative sex life often led distress in relationships.
  • Adverse effects on caregiver/ partner overall well-being: Mental health illness increases levels of stress and burn out feelings in the caregiver/spouse’s life. Secondary PTSD symptoms in a veteran’s family/spouse could be a good example related to this issue.
  • Degrades Biopsychosocial health: Mental health may increase lethargic feelings in couples, impact their ability to express empathy, increase feelings of anxiety, grief, and isolation.
  • Disrupted communication: a person who is dealing with mental health challenges feels emotionally overwhelmed and finds it hard to articulate their feelings. Sometimes they resist communicating out of fear of being abandoned and feelings of guilt. That led to the problem of miscommunication or lack of communication in relationships.
  • Codependency issues: Mental health issues increase codependency and develop a perceived sense of helplessness in mentally ill persons without the caregiver/ partner.

Why are people hesitant to talk about mental health challenges?

Usually, someone who is living with mental illness, they may be hesitant to tell their family/partner for the following reasons:
● Maybe they worry that their family/partner will end the relationship once they find out.
● Possibly wonder whether their family/partner will be able to navigate and help them
● Overwhelmed with shame, guilt and embarrassment related to mental illness

Sign of someone going through mental illness:

  1. Change in appetite, sex drive, sleeping patterns, and significant tiredness
  2. Extreme mood swings
  3. Increase dependence on unhealthy coping mechanisms such as drugs & alcohol etc.
  4. Unusual sadness or emotional outbursts
  5. Confused thinking or reduced ability to concentrate
  6. Excessive fears or worries, avoidance or extreme feelings of guilt
  7. Withdrawal from friends and activities
  8. Detachment from reality (delusions), paranoia or hallucinations

How can we help?

  • Advocate for your spouse/partner/family
  • Extend support, empathy, compassion and love and validation Increase awareness about partners mental health issues
  • Increase open and honest communication
  • Have some patience, optimism, and encourage to seek professional help ASAP
  • Focus on yourself care and find a way to compromise so both feel supported
  • Increase healthy boundaries, build healthy habits and reduce codependency

How Therapy can help to deal with mental health challenges in relationships:

  • Therapy will provide an opportunity to individuals/family/couple to talk about their unmet needs and emotions in a safe therapeutic environment.
  • Therapy focuses on improving the attachment and bonding between family/partners. Such as, increasing awareness about how their early childhood experiences and attachment pattern influence their current mental state. People feel connected when they gain insight about their inner world, and understand how their response and behavior lead to disruption in relationships.
  • Therapy helps individuals to get insight about their/others underlying hopes and fears; increases empathetic understanding and builds friendship with increased admiration for each other.
  • Therapy assists individuals to improve positive communication and problem-solving skills. That empowers them to address core issues related to conflicts and focus on solutions rather than just stuck on problems.
  • Therapy guides individuals learn how to focus on self-reflection rather than blame, increases gratitude, enjoy positive aspects of the life/relationship, and promote stability and satisfaction while discouraging behaviors/responses that foster negativity.

Overall, people can help themselves and their family/partners by gaining insights and seeking professional help such as, individual/family/couples counseling. Therapy will help enhance their awareness and skills to deal with mental health challenges successfully, and promote mutual empathetic understanding and feelings of togetherness by restoring strong healthy relationships in their lives.

By Kiran Singh, LMFT at Therapy2Thrive counseling center in Pleasanton

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Our counselors at Therapy2Thrive™ provide compassionate, practical, and evidenced based practices to assist you in the therapeutic process to meet your goals and find hope to heal the challenges you are facing.

Contact our family counselor in Pleasanton for private consultation.