Codependency is a tendency of a person to behave in passive or excessively caretaking ways that negatively impact one's relationships and quality of life. Codependency can occur in almost any type of relationship. It is most obvious in the romantic relationships, but it also affects families, people at work, friendships, and peers or community relationships. Codependency, also known as codependence, co-narcissism or inverted narcissism is just another condition from a broad range of dependent personality disorders.
Dependent personality disorder
This personality disorder, formerly known as the asthenic personality disorder, is characterized by an all-encompassing psychological dependence on other people. People affected by dependent personality disorder will depend too much on other people to meet their sentimental and physical needs. These patients usually perceive others as more capable of coping with life’s responsibilities and more capable of providing every kind of support and security. People with dependent personality disorder usually do not accept a lot of responsibilities for themselves and to the great extent seek continuous support from others. Typically, people with dependent personality disorder are fixated in the past, maintaining youthful impressions, and retaining childlike views of the people, toward whom they act completely submissive.
Dangers of codependency
In many cases, untreated codependency leads to much more serious problems such as different eating disorders, sex or drug addiction, and various self-destructive or self-defeating behaviors. These patients are typical victims of aggressive individuals, and typically they tend to stay in stressful jobs or relationships. They are less likely to seek medical attention when needed and, on average, they rarely get promotions or rise of salary. Many people affected by codependency gradually develop severe social anxiety disorders such as social phobia, avoidant personality disorder or painful shyness. They are also more likely to suffer from panic disorder, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder.
Treatment of codependency
People suffering from codependency may completely recover using a number of successful treatment options. Most commonly prescribed therapy is a behavioral psychotherapy, often completed by chemical therapy for associated depression. A lot of support groups for codependency are also available, ranging from Christian and Bible-based groups to the twelve-step program model of Alcoholics Anonymous. A lot of self-help guides recently became available and very popular.
The goal of the treatment is to prevent further deterioration, alleviate symptoms, restore lost skills and improve adaptive capacity. The focus is set on adaptation and improving the way individuals respond to their environments. After a successful treatment, an individual should learn how to manage distress effectively, how to improve interpersonal effectiveness, and build skills for affective regulation.