Is It a Toxic Relationship or a Sign of Depression?
Toxic relationships have many faces, as does depression. Both situations can wind up making you, the victim, feel like you are not worth much more than dirt. If you find yourself suffering from low levels of energy, a lack of enthusiasm, and a dread of doing anything but rolling yourself up in a blanket and laying on the couch all day, you need to ask yourself whether this is depression or the result of a toxic relationship.
Defining the disorders
The side effects of toxic relationships and depression are remarkably similar. You lose a sense of who you are and what you want. The defining difference between the two is that depression is caused by something from inside, whereas a toxic relationship is an exterior poison you are absorbing continuously.
By definition, a toxic relationship is when one person displays behaviors that are emotionally and physically damaging to the victimized partner.
As for depression, the Mayo Clinic defines it as “a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness or loss of interest.”
Symptoms and side effects
Now, you can see above that both play on emotions. Here is a comparison of how toxic relationships and depression affect you (similar effects have been italicized):
- Feeling frightened, nervous, or anxious around someone
- You feel nauseous, are getting ulcers, lightheadedness, chest pains, or rashes (or a mix of all of these)
- You bicker with one person (perhaps your partner) all the time
- You are misunderstood
- You cannot communicate with the individual who may be the source of the poison
- The individual in question is domineering
- Everything is overdramatic
- The other individual gaslights, or makes you question the validity of your own statements by using diversion tactics
- They put up walls to keep you from communicating
- You start regretting your time with them. Also, you feel like, “I didn’t sign up for this.”
- Loss of interest in the relationship
The biggest thing to remember is that, in a toxic relationship, someone is being abusive – sometimes inadvertently.
- Sadness, emptiness, hopelessness
- Outbursts, irritability, and frustration
- Trouble with concentrating and making decisions
- Unexplained physical ailments like a backache, stomachache, and ulcers
- Loss of interest in things that used to be of importance to you
- Sleep disturbances
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt; will often blame yourself for problems that were not or are not your fault
- Changes in appetite
- Anxiety, agitation, and restlessness
- Slowed thinking, speaking, and gesticulations
- Frequent thoughts of suicide, death, or even suicide attempts (adapted from the Mayo Clinic website)
Regardless of whether or not you are around someone else and still feel hopeless and lifeless, you might be experiencing both. The frightening reality is that some of us cannot extract ourselves from the toxic relationship that is making us depressed. There are instances when the detrimental person is not a significant other but a parent, family member, or a friend.
Pair the love and history you have with this person with the guilt that depression tends to incubate. The situation becomes anguishing. How do you discuss things with this person when they treat you the way they do? How do you circumvent your own feelings of worthlessness? Will they understand your point-of-view when they’re been so short-sighted about their own faults this entire time?
When I realized I was in a toxic relationship with a couple people in my life, I also connected some parallels to the manic depression that had smeared the watercolor rainbows of my life with charcoal.
I extricated myself from the situation to see if my mood would change, and it did. Unfortunately, me saying, “Get to the chopper! Now!” won’t do many people in this kind of scenario any good. But I can say this:
You don’t have to tolerate a life you didn’t sign up for
First, whether it’s one individual or a group of people hurting you, talking to them might not do much good. So try something else: Go on vacation away from these individuals that might be spoiling your world. Stay at another friend’s house for a few days.
Sign yourself up for volunteer services in another country. It might sound a bit extreme, but nothing clears the mind like getting away from the wet sheet of toxicity and depression. From there, you will know what is truly going on.
Toxic relationships and depression have much in common. One issue stems from dealing with an abusive individual. The other is spawned from your mental state. Neither problem mitigates the other.
In fact, it is like pouring oil on a fire. Once you have determined what’s making you feel horrible, fix the issue or rid yourself of it. Otherwise, the toxic relationship and depression will sap your soul.