Relationships and Mental Illness


Relationships are connections with people that provide support, comfort and affection. They include casual acquaintances, such as people you meet in classes or work; close friends with whom you spend time based on shared interests, hobbies and schedules; and romantic partners with whom you feel the spark of love. The intimacy of a relationship makes it natural to become emotionally attached to someone, and this emotional support can be a lifeline when you are feeling low or depressed. In addition, the presence of a partner can stimulate certain areas of the brain, which can boost your mood and reduce feelings of loneliness.

In a healthy relationship, the two partners treat each other with respect and empathy. They set clear boundaries, solve problems and express their feelings. They prioritize their relationship, despite other commitments and obligations. They make time to be together, and they remember details about each other’s lives. They communicate honestly, even about difficult topics like sex.

Being in a relationship can have many health benefits, including lower stress levels, restful sleep, improved mental and physical well-being and stronger family ties. However, not all relationships are created equal. In fact, some relationships can be toxic and have a negative impact on your life. In such cases, it’s important to take a step back and decide whether the relationship is worth the effort of repairing and strengthening it.

Relationships also offer the opportunity to practice and improve your communication skills, problem-solving techniques and conflict resolution tactics. It’s easy to hide bad behavior in a relationship, but it’s vital to open up and share your true feelings with your partner. This is especially true when you are struggling with mental illness. You need to be able to turn to your loved one for love and support, but you should also be able to trust them not to abuse that power by manipulating or hurting you.

Most relationship problems stem from poor communication, says Elaine Fantle Shimberg, author of Blending Families. Couples should set aside time to talk, and avoid checking their phones or watching TV while they’re doing so. It’s also important to listen carefully for nonverbal cues, such as facial expressions and body language.

In addition, couples should learn to balance their personal and professional lives. They should set regular date nights, travel together and spend quality time as a couple. They should also create a comfortable environment for intimacy, including the bedroom. They should respect each other’s independence and freedom to pursue their own activities, and they should avoid judging each other or expecting the other to be a mind reader. They should be willing to talk about difficult subjects, such as finances and sex, and they should resolve conflicts respectfully rather than resorting to passive-aggressive or explosive tactics. This can help prevent resentment and alienation in the relationship.