How Your Mental Health Affects Your Relationships

One in five Americans has at least one mental disorder at any given time, according to the Center of Disease Control. Over 50% will experience mental illness at least once in their life. So, it’s no doubt that this impacts those directly around them. With those numbers, nearly 100 million Americans have a close family member with a mental health disorder. That’s not even including romantic partners or work colleagues. This shows how essential it is in understanding how mental health affects family relationships and beyond.

A strong relationship provides valuable, community-minded support during difficult times. Not learning how to manage your close relationships while you work on your mental health can be damaging for both parties involved. Below, we help you understand how your mental health can affect those around you and tools for nurturing the relationships that matter most to you.

Managing Shame & Stress When Dealing With Mental Health Struggles at Work

According to the World Health Organization, anxiety and depression alone contribute one trillion dollars to the global economy due to lost productivity. Poor mental health can lead to burn-out in the workplace and hinder your ability to contribute meaningfully. If you’ve struggled with increased absenteeism, negative productivity and lower morale, you’re not alone. If you find this leading to strained colleague relationships, there are steps you can take.

With existing mental health problems, the added stress of complicating a relationship with a boss or feeling like you’re letting down your peers can exacerbate your mental health. Working under an umbrella of constant stress helps no one, but managing it is easier said than done.

Dealing with depression in the workplace can be isolating and induce feelings of great shame. People with depression are protected against harassment and discrimination by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), so even though it may seem hard, resources are in place to protect you. It may be scary to open up to your boss, but doing so can protect you and help them understand why you aren’t always able to meet their expectations. You have a legal right under the ADA to get reasonable accommodations that help you perform and keep your job as you manage your mental health.

If you don’t feel safe disclosing at work to your manager, turn to a trusted colleague, friend, partner or support group. Many workplaces have employee resource groups. Check and see if your organization has a group for mental health, disabilities or neurodiversity.

Managing Mental Health in Romantic Relationships with Communication & Trust

Intimate relationships can be greatly affected by untreated mental health. Three effects are at the forefront of problems: shame, intimacy problems, and codependency.

The stigma surrounding mental health conditions make it easy to allow shame, resentment and guilt to latch onto your romantic relationships. When a partner tries to hide their symptoms or fails to seek help, it can lead to immense amounts of embarrassment or deep-rooted shame. This in turn can lead to a confused or frustrated partner. Does your mental health make it difficult for you to complete chores, be emotionally available and maintain employment? This can lead to disappointment, rejection or disconnection on the other side from your partner. That’s normal. It’s how you work through it that matters.

Mental illness can also make some people disinterested in sex. In many ways, your mental health affects your physical health. Decreased libido is a symptom of both the condition itself and certain medications meant to treat it. This effect can lead to performance anxiety, feelings of inadequacy, or low-self esteem. In turn, it can lead to less bonding and unmet needs.

And lastly, untreated mental health conditions can uproot unhealthy coping patterns: codependency. The intimate partner of a person with mental health issues may start to derive their self-worth from the degree to which they are ‘needed’ as a caregiver. In extreme cases, this can increase the risk of certain abusive behaviors, like gaslighting or manipulation.

A little reminder: mental illness does not make you undateable or unloveable. Struggles with your mental health can trick you into thinking you aren’t worthy of a romantic relationship, but there are steps you can take to reduce the barriers above and have a great, loving relationship with an understanding partner. 

Healthy communication is vital. You and your partner should be able to speak freeling and honestly: about the good and the bad. Your wellbeing in your relationship where mental health is thrown into the mix depends on your ability to speak up when you need help, need space or just have something on your mind causing you anxiety. Remember, your partner is not a mind reader. Trust, communication, respecting boundaries and asking for support when you need it.

How The Couch Can Help

None of this discussion is meant to scare you or make you believe you are ever a burden to the loved ones in your life. But it is possible to find treatment for your mental health and nurture the relationships around you.

Getting the psychiatric care you need should be easy, stress-free, and uncomplicated. The Couch was created to ensure that happens. With concierge support 24/7, accessible insurance eligibility and cost-effective options, advanced psychiatric matching, and simple scheduling, The Couch can help you get your mental health back on track and give you the tools you need to manage the relationships in your life.