Although there are several different typologies for co-dependency disorder, the main connection between all co-dependents is the unhealthy or excessive degree to which they exhibit caring feelings and behaviour. The most common symptoms include separation and abandonment anxiety, low self-esteem, denial, avoidance and control patterns, excessive caretaking, the need to people-please, and an extreme dependency on others. If several or most of the below questions apply to you, then you may need to seek treatment for co-dependency disorder.
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About Co-dependency Disorder
Originally, the concept of co-dependency came out of studies of alcohol addiction, when researchers realized that the spouses of alcoholics sometimes contributed to the problem through adopting a set of compulsive and maladaptive behaviours as a means of dealing with the stress and emotional pain. Traditionally, co-dependency describes a disorder where a person has become psychologically dependent on the maladaptive addiction behaviours of their partner. The term has since been broadened to encompass an unhealthy dependence on another person's behaviour in general, and an obsession with controlling that behaviour. Co-dependents need their partners for emotional gratification, to the point where daily tasks, psychological functions, and social interactions are negatively impacted. They often suffer from abandonment anxiety, low self-esteem, excessive compliance, crippling indecisiveness, and denial; co-dependents may resort to manipulation to control their partner's behaviour and make sure that he or she does not abandon them. Co-dependency is often linked with other disorders such as anxiety disorders, drug or alcohol addiction, and clinical depression.
Treatment of Co-dependency Disorder
Studies show that if left untreated, co-dependency symptoms worsen with time, but fortunately, these symptoms can be reversed. It is recommended that people suffering from co-dependency join a 12-step program such as Co-Dependents Anonymous for initial support and guidance. Additional counselling and therapy are often beneficial as well. Because the symptoms of co-dependency stem from deeply ingrained patterns of thought and maladaptive behaviours, one useful treatment is psychotherapy, which can help co-dependents identify the root causes behind their behaviours and emotions, and take steps towards changing these habits. Psychotherapy helps patients confront their abandonment and separation anxiety, and work towards re-establishing personal growth and attaining self-autonomy. Other treatments such as cognitive behavioural therapy and trauma therapy can also help sufferers of co-dependency control and change their learned behavioural and emotional responses.
Post-Rehabilitation of Co-dependency Disorder
After treatment, patients should strive to maintain continual awareness of their emotional and behavioural responses and take direct actions to mitigate maladaptive behaviours. Keeping a record of thought patterns throughout the day and analyzing them for the reasons underlying them can be helpful. Patients should also keep working on fostering their self-esteem and reducing separation and abandonment anxiety. Social support is very important, and it may be helpful to share emotions, desires, and fears with close family and friends. In addition to a support group, self-help is recommended and activities such as meditation and yoga can aid in reducing anxiety and eliminating addictive behaviour. Since abandonment anxiety often entails feelings of loneliness, isolation, and emptiness, taking part in something meaningful and altruistic, such as volunteering for a charity, may help to reduce those negative feelings.
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