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How Anxiety & Depression Destroy Relationships. Can Anything Help?

Depression and anxiety can destroy relationships. Learn how they form a negative cycle that can cause damage plus ways to help on HealthyPlace.

Anxiety and depression destroy relationships because they create a problem-causing cycle among two people trying to be together meaningfully. Both depression and anxiety can zap that meaning and replace it with misgivings. This creates relationship dissatisfaction, which in turn can exacerbate mental health struggles. The bigger and stronger anxiety and depression grow, the more stress overshadows the positives in a relationship. The cycle continues until anxiety and depression destroy the relationship. This isn’t guaranteed, however. You can do things to help your mental health and your relationship.

How Anxiety and Depression Affects Relationships

One of the biggest contributing factors to the cycle of depression, anxiety, and romantic relationship distress is perspective. How you see and interpret people and situations significantly impacts your relationship. One of the problems with depression and anxiety is that they overshadow and darken perspectives. In a relationship, this skewed perception can do quite a bit of harm, such as:

  • warping thoughts and making negative thinking patterns the go-to way of interpreting the relationship and partner
  • creating negative emotions about problems magnified by anxiety or depression
  • causing hurtful misunderstandings and misinterpretation of words, body language, and behaviors
  • increasing negative beliefs, including dissatisfaction with each other and the relationship

When someone experiences depression, anxiety, or both, their clouded perceptions begin to affect their actions in their relationship. Negative thoughts and emotions can be hurtful and frustrating, but on their own they’re not enough to destroy a relationship. It’s when they begin to influence choices and actions that a pothole in a relationship becomes a deep chasm. You might notice some of these issues or similar ones in yourself, your partner, and your relationship:

  • You don’t connect because you or your partner fears intimacy
  • You don’t connect because you or your partner is too exhausted
  • You frequently argue, bicker, and blame because of irritability and anger caused by either anxiety or depression
  • One or both of you has withdrawn, so you’re no longer present together in the relationship
  • Sexual affection and tender moments have stopped
  • One or both of you has given up other friendships and interests, causing isolation, guilt, and resentment (when one partner does this because of depression and anxiety, it negatively affects the other)
  • Criticism begins to replace caring words

Depression, anxiety, and relationships are a harsh combination. Two caring people who were once in love can become jaded and disappointed. This can destroy any relationship. That’s the bad news. The good news is that if you live with anxiety and depression, your relationship isn’t automatically doomed.

How to Help Relationships Being Destroyed by Depression and Anxiety

Anxiety, depression, and relationships move up and down together. While this can be problematic when they spiral downward into the deep chasm that has formed in your relationship, this linked movement presents an excellent opportunity to help and heal.

Remember the negative cycle of depression, anxiety, and relationship dissatisfaction and distress? You can turn that same cycle into a positive one. By working, even in little ways, on one area, you simultaneously help the others. When you and your partner do things to decrease anxiety or depression, they both improve.

As these mental health struggles lose power bit by bit, your perception about your relationship shifts. You see it more positively. Then that healthier relationship helps anxiety and depression.

One of the most important ways to help depression, anxiety, and your relationship is for you and your partner to intentionally reconnect with each other.

  • Text each other (but not excessively or out of suspiciousness).
  • Write notes and leave them where the other will see.
  • Resume physical closeness, starting with holding hands, then cuddling, and increasing from there.

It can be difficult to just jump back into the world and activities when you’re paralyzed by anxiety or depression, but doing things as a couple goes a long way in repairing both your relationship and your mental health. Consider choosing one simple and small activity to do regularly as a couple.

Other things that can help your relationship and each other:

  • Learn about depression and anxiety to increase understanding and avoid taking things personally
  • Practice self-care, whether it’s you or your partner who has depression or anxiety
  • Communicate with each other, sharing what this is like for you and discovering how to support each other

Anxiety and depression affect relationships, threatening to destroy them. You and your partner can work together to prevent that from happening and to boost each other’s mental health.

article references

APA Reference
Peterson, T. (2019, April 17). How Anxiety & Depression Destroy Relationships. Can Anything Help?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 15 from https://www.healthyplace.com/anxiety-panic/relationships/how-anxiety-depression-destroy-relationships-can-anything-help

Last Updated: May 15, 2019

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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