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Codependency involves sacrificing one’s personal needs to try to meet the needs of others. Someone who is codependent has an extreme focus outside themselves. Their thoughts and actions revolve around other people, such as spouses or relatives.

Codependency often appears in relationships which are unbalanced and unhealthy. A person with codependency often tries to save others from themselves. They may get hurt trying to “cure” a partner’s addictions or abusive behaviors.

Codependency does not qualify as a mental health diagnosis, mostly because the symptoms are so widely applicable. Yet it can still cause severe distress. Codependency may lead a person to develop other mental health concerns such as anxiety. A therapist can help a person reduce codependent behaviors and develop healthier relationships.

People with codependency often put everyone else’s needs above their own. As a result, they can develop feelings of resentment and emptiness. They may also find themselves in toxic relationships. Therapy can help a person develop healthier ways of interacting with others.

Erica Holtz, a Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania marriage and family therapist, says, “Codependency can be difficult to change alone as codependent behaviors are often learned early on and reinforced over many years. Resolving codependency can improve relationships, decrease depression and anxiety, and improve self-esteem.”

Here is a 60-question self-assessment to see if you may have codependent traits. And here is a Codependency packet to read for more information.