Codependency: What are the signs?

content provided by

Codependency: What are the signs?


What is codependency? How do I know if I'm codependent?

No name
No state given


The term "codependency" was coined more than 20 years ago by authors who studied the negative impact of drug and alcohol use on families. Since then, use of the term has been expanded to include a pattern of psychologically unhealthy behaviors that are learned by individuals as a way of coping with a family environment marked by ignored or denied emotional turmoil.

Most people are able to enjoy a sense of healthy, mutual interdependence in their lives. However, people with codependency seem to habitually form relationships that are one-sided and emotionally destructive.

The central feature of codependency is an unhealthy dependence on relationships, usually in an attempt to avoid the feeling of abandonment. Signs and symptoms of codependency include:

  • Controlling behavior
  • Mistrust of others
  • Perfectionism
  • Avoidance of feelings
  • Excessive caretaking behavior
  • Hypervigilance — a heightened awareness for potential threat or danger

If you feel that you or someone you care about may be struggling with codependency issues, consider consulting with a mental health professional who is experienced in working with individuals with these problems. The more you understand about codependency, the more likely meaningful and positive change will occur.

Last Updated: 05/04/2006
© 1998-2016 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). All rights reserved. A single copy of these materials may be reprinted for noncommercial personal use only. "Mayo," "Mayo Clinic," "," "Mayo Clinic Health Information," "Reliable information for a healthier life" and the triple-shield Mayo logo are trademarks of Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.

Terms and conditions of use


Bookmark and Share   E-Mail Page   Printer Friendly Version