How Toxic Relationships Affect Our Mental Health

How Toxic Relationships Affect Our Mental Health

In our day-to-day lives, we interact with a lot of people. Some are our friends, family, strangers, boss, relatives, etc. These interactions and connections to some people are relationships. Relationships help us understand the other person and our own self. Relationships even help us to grow in our lives and have a happy and healthy life. But when these relationships demotivate us, make us feel misunderstood about ourselves, and demean us are toxic relationships. The word toxic itself explains that it is harmful to us. Likewise, toxic relationships are harmful for our bodies and our mind.

What is actually a toxic relationship?

A relationship is one that makes you uncomfortable, unsupported, demeaned, and makes you feel attacked. A toxic relationship threatens a person’s well-being which includes emotional, psychological, and physical well-being (Scott, 2022).

Toxic relationships can be present with anyone in an individual’s life. It can be a friend, a family member, your partner, etc. Individuals suffering from mental illnesses are more likely to get involved in a toxic relationship as they are emotionally sensitive. People with mood disorders like bipolar disorders and depressive disorders are more susceptible to it (Scott, 2022).

 Signs of a Toxic Relationship:

The signs can be verbal, non-verbal, physical, or emotional. Some of the signs of a toxic relationship are as follows:

  1. You value the person, but the person makes you feel devalued.
  2. The individual does not respect you and your emotions.
  3. They make you feel guilty or prove that it was your fault in the situation even if it is not.
  4. You invest a lot of your emotional energy in cheering them up (Scott, 2022).
 Does Psychopathy have an impact on romantic relationships?

Psychopathy is a syndrome. The syndrome can be characterized by interpersonal features like grandiose and deceitful, affective features like shallow emotions, lifestyle which includes impulsive and risk-taking decisions, and social deviance which is criminal activities and lack of anger control. The prevalence estimated is less than 1%. But the impact of it on the victims is substantial, which includes their psychological and physical health (Forth et al., 2021).

Intimate partner violence is one of the major risk factor for psychopathy. This intimate partner violence can include any type of violence which can occur in an intimate relationship like physical, sexual, and emotional violence. The affective dimension is the most consistently appearing dimension of psychopathy related to intimate partner violence, but this is not totally backed by research. Around 15% to 30% of people who are involved in intimate partner violence can be estimated with psychopathy with clinical criteria (Forth et al., 2021)

Impact of Intimate Partner Violence on the Individual

Intimate Partner Violence has more negative impacts psychological than physical or sexual. The victims of intimate partner violence showed PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) symptoms. We can see a number of consequences due to this. These consequences are:

  1. Emotional Consequences: According to the study, victims showed psychological or emotional difficulties. Victims showed feelings with the dimensions of hatred and anger. Emotions like anxiety, fear, paranoia, and panic were also common. Some victims also reported being diagnosed with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) symptoms. With testing it symptoms like depression, anhedonia, suicidal ideation, suicidal attempts, helplessness, hopelessness, and self-worth-related issues were seen (Forth et al., 2021).
  • Biological Consequences: Biological effects were also seen in the study. Most common were the somatic problems which included GI problems (Gastrointestinal problems), headaches, and ulcers. We also noticed significant weight reduction, hair loss, and greying of hair in some cases. Furthermore, we detected various biological abnormalities, such as heart and respiratory diseases such as bronchitis, asthma, and so on. Some victims also were taking medications for blood pressure. (Forth et al., 2021) discovered endocrine and urological illnesses, central and peripheral nervous system ailments, and reproductive issues.
  • Behavioral Consequences: Behavioral changes seen in the study showed that victims were modification of the eating and sleeping habits, lack of self-care which lead to smoking and substance abuse, and changes with regard to social interactions. Some victims showed self-injuring behavior (Forth et al., 2021).
  • Cognitive changes: Due to the prevalence of PTSD victims reported dissociation, difficulty in concentration, intrusion experience, and difficulty with retaining information i.e., memory (Forth et al., 2021).
  • Interpersonal relationships: The study showed the victims had devastating effects on their interpersonal relationships. These effects were a lack of trust on anyone, questioning the intentions of the other individual, not sharing personal information, fear of abandonment, cross-checking the individual’s background, etc (Forth et al., 2021).
Coping with a toxic relationship:
  1. Be clear about your feelings and needs to the other person. Have a conversation about what you are experiencing.
  2. The individual should analyze the situation and strive to come up with a solution that meets their demands suitably.
  3. Ask yourself whether this relationship is harming your mental health and self-esteem.
  4. Restrict spending time with people who make you feel frustrated or unhappy.
  5. If you want to explain your concerns to the other person, use “I feel” statements while explaining your emotions and feelings. It will help the other person not get defensive.
  6. Understand that some people do not wish to change and mostly those who do not have self-awareness or social skills.
  7. If needed try to stand up for yourself non-confrontationally (Scott, 2022).

Relationships that are toxic make us feel uncomfortable, unsupported, devalued, and under attack. Everyone in a person’s life can witness their existence and identify them based on interpersonal characteristics, affective characteristics, lifestyle choices, and cultural deviation. Some patients experienced significant weight loss, hair loss, and greying of the hair. They also detected various biological abnormalities such as cardiac and respiratory diseases such as bronchitis, asthma, and so on. PTSD, OCD, sadness, anhedonia, suicidal ideation, suicidal attempts, helplessness, hopelessness, and concerns with self-worth are some of the psychological, biological, and behavioral effects. Behavioral, cognitive, and interpersonal changes, as well as a lack of trust and a fear of abandonment, were all observed by PTSD victims. Being honest about your wants and feelings, employing “I feel” statements and non-confrontational self-defense are all part of coping with toxic relationships.

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