Chronic Depression And Codependency: Understanding The Relationship


Chronic depression is a mental health condition characterized by a persistent feeling of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness that lasts for a long time. Codependency, on the other hand, is a behavioral pattern whereby one person provides emotional support and care to another person to the extent that their own needs are neglected. Both chronic depression and codependency are complex mental health issues that can co-occur, and this article will explore the relationship between the two.

Symptoms Of Chronic Depression

Chronic depression is a debilitating mental health disorder that is characterized by a range of symptoms. These symptoms include:
· Persistent sadness
· Irritability and agitation
· Difficulty sleeping or oversleeping
· Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, and guilt
· Loss of interest in activities that were once pleasurable
· Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
· Difficulty eating or overeating
· Thoughts of suicide

Symptoms Of Codependency

Codependency is a behavioral pattern that can be the result of growing up in a dysfunctional family. Some of the symptoms of codependency include:
· Prioritizing the needs of others over your own needs
· Difficulty in setting and maintaining boundaries
· Difficulty in expressing your own emotions, opinions, and needs
· A deep-seated need for approval and validation from others
· An overwhelming sense of responsibility for the happiness and well-being of others
· A tendency to always put others before yourself, even when it is to your own detriment

The Relationship Between Chronic Depression And Codependency

There is a strong connection between chronic depression and codependency, which can result in a vicious cycle if not addressed. Let’s take a closer look at how these two issues intersect.

1. Chronic Depression Can Lead To Codependency

Individuals who suffer from chronic depression may find themselves feeling isolated and alone. They may turn to others for support, validation, and a sense of purpose. In some cases, people with chronic depression may end up relying heavily on others to meet their emotional needs, even to the detriment of their own well-being. This dependency can lead to codependency, where the individual becomes overly invested in the lives and feelings of others, to the point of neglecting their own needs.

2. Codependency Can Lead To Chronic Depression

Codependency can lead to chronic depression because individuals who are codependent can become so focused on the needs of others that they forget about their own. As a result, they may begin to feel unimportant, undervalued, and unloved. This can lead to feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness, which are all symptoms of chronic depression.

3. Chronic Depression And Codependency Can Interact To Create And Worsen Negative Cycles

In some cases, chronic depression and codependency can create a negative cycle that worsens over time. Individuals with chronic depression may become increasingly reliant on others, which can lead to codependency. At the same time, codependency can lead to chronic depression, which can make it even more difficult for people to set boundaries and seek help. This cycle can continue indefinitely unless the person seeks professional help.

Treating Chronic Depression And Codependency

The good news is that both chronic depression and codependency are treatable. Below are some of the treatment options available:

1. Therapy

Individual therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), can be helpful for both chronic depression and codependency. CBT can help individuals identify and challenge negative thoughts and beliefs that contribute to their mental health issues. Additionally, therapy can help individuals learn new coping mechanisms and improve their communication and relationship skills.

2. Medication

Antidepressants are commonly prescribed for treating chronic depression. These medications can help regulate the levels of serotonin and other neurotransmitters in the brain. Additionally, medication can be helpful in treating anxiety and other mental health issues that may be contributing to chronic depression or codependency.

3. Support Groups

Support groups can be an excellent resource for individuals dealing with chronic depression or codependency. These groups can offer a safe and supportive environment where people can share their experiences and challenges with others who are going through the same thing.

4. Self-Care

Self-care is an important part of treating both chronic depression and codependency. This can include activities such as exercise, meditation, healthy eating, and getting enough sleep. Practicing self-care can help individuals manage their symptoms and improve their overall well-being.


Chronic depression and codependency are complex mental health issues that can co-occur, and understanding the relationship between the two is crucial for effective treatment. Individuals who suffer from chronic depression or codependency should seek professional help from a mental health provider. With the right treatment, individuals can manage their symptoms and improve their overall quality of life.


FAQs About Chronic Depression And Codependency

What is Chronic Depression?

Chronic depression, also known as dysthymia, is a mental disorder characterized by persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness that last for at least two years. The symptoms of chronic depression are less severe than those of major depression, but they can significantly impact a person’s daily life.

What is Codependency?

Codependency is a behavioral condition that develops when a person excessively relies on others for their emotional needs and wellbeing. Codependent individuals may enable or tolerate harmful actions or behaviors from others, sacrificing their own needs and values in the process. This condition often occurs in individuals who have experienced trauma or grew up in dysfunctional families.

How Are Chronic Depression and Codependency Related?

Studies have shown that individuals with chronic depression are at a higher risk of developing codependency behaviors. In some cases, chronic depression and codependency can feed into each other, creating a vicious cycle. Individuals with chronic depression may rely on others for emotional support, leading them to develop codependent behaviors. On the other hand, codependent behaviours can worsen chronic depression, as individuals may sacrifice their own wellbeing and neglect seeking proper treatment. It is vital to address both chronic depression and codependency to improve one’s mental health and overall quality of life.


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3. O’Gorman, E. C., & Cronin, P. (2015). The relationship between codependency and depression in an Irish community population. Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine, 32(4), 359-364.