How Does Mental Health Impact Relationships? Here's A Closer Look

Happy couple with sound mental health One’s mental health can contribute to a relationship’s dynamics.

Have you had challenges regarding your mental well-being? Are these challenges causing friction in your relationship?

The World Health Organization says that one in five Americans deal with some sort of mental health disorder at any given time. Disorders like depression affect many aspects of daily living, including productivity and quality of life.

Four Pew Research Center surveys reported that at least four out of 10 US adults (41%) experienced intense psychological distress as the pandemic raged.

With these statistics, it is safe to say that you are not alone in fighting tough mental battles.

Most of us have seen and felt their impact over the last three years because of necessary health restrictions. Yes, quarantine may have provided physical protection from COVID-19 (which is still ongoing). However, no stay-at-home order could have shielded anybody from the uncertainty and distress that came with the isolation.

Mental wellness can contribute to how a relationship plays out too. We’ll discuss how the two impact one another. We’ll also share valuable tips that can improve your mental well-being.

The Link Between Relationships and Mental Wellness

Mental soundness and relationships go together. When one is doing well, the other benefits from that. But if one thing isn’t going great, so will the other.

Many studies have shown a link between mental health and relationships. One recent paper explored the connection between one’s relationship status to their mental state through different life phases. It found that single and divorced people, especially men, had poor mental well-being.

The quality of relationships matters here too. If you’re in a toxic setup, there’s no question that issues will surface. A person can only take so much negativity.

The Outcomes: How Relationships Affect Mental Health

A couple walking on a beach There is a directly proportional correlation with how mental health affects relationships.

Relationships are undoubtedly an essential part of our lives. Now that we see their connection to mental wellness, let’s discuss the effects themselves.

Here’s how mental health affects relationships and vice versa:

Your disposition changes

Relationships aren’t the ultimate solution to happiness. However, falling in love and being with a supportive partner can positively impact your disposition. Many studies have proven that happy and stable relationships contribute to better mental well-being. Conversely, toxic relationships can sour our mental state, increasing our depression, anxiety, and stress levels.

Habits will develop

Supportive partners are more likely to convince you to make and stick to healthy lifestyle choices. Good bodily habits play a big part in keeping one’s mental health in shape, cutting unhealthy ones out of your life.

Toxic partners will, unfortunately, push you to build bad habits. When you pair the two things together, it’ll push you into a darker place.

You’ll change how you see yourself

People should know their worth outside their circles. But for better or worse, relationships affect one’s self-esteem. It’s not a partner’s job to completely build their lover’s confidence, but their reassurance does help.

Relationships Affected by Mental Health

At this point, you already understand how bad relationships affect mental health. If you think that a condition only affects the person experiencing it, the reality is that it isn’t true.

Sometimes, we forget that disorders not only take a toll on us but on other people as well. This section will explain how mental health issues impact different relationships to develop understanding and empathy.


In a Priory Group survey, 80% of its respondents shared that their mental health problems negatively affected their families. If you’re wondering how mental health affects family relationships, here’s how it plays out.

Mental illness sows negativity around a person’s environment. Family members can see and feel that, unfortunately, suffering consequences. They may feel stressed, anxious, or guilty as they try to support their suffering loved one.


A group of people on a rooftop Learning how relationships affect mental health will help you become a better person.

Let’s say things are going rough mentally, and you choose not to share much about it. Instead, you isolate yourself and create distance, making room for potential misunderstandings. While that’s your decision, you can’t stop your friends from seeing and feeling your pain.


Many are sadly familiar with horrible working environments, which contribute to poor mental health.

When someone isn’t mentally well at work, their productivity and motivation decrease. And when they keep that up, that can affect professional relationships. Your supervisors, teammates, and coworkers may view them as a liability in the workplace.


Mental illness can undoubtedly challenge couples.

Dealing with an issue itself is difficult enough, but the stigma surrounding mental disorders can bring extra stress to both parties. The person experiencing illness may harbor guilt, shame, and embarrassment about their condition. At the same time, their partners may feel frustration, confusion, rejection, and disappointment.

Dealing with mental problems puts a strain on intimacy as well. Low self-worth and inadequacy may make couples feel disinterested, which results in dissatisfaction.

Codependency may also develop, especially if one party enables a poor mental environment. If this tendency remains unaddressed, couples may find themselves exhibiting abusive tendencies.

What Makes a Relationship Toxic?

Toxic relationships have become a much-discussed subject in recent years. Its popularity isn’t unfounded, though: they are contributors to a person’s poor mental well-being.

With that, here are two questions. One, what constitutes toxic relationships? Two, how can toxic relationships affect mental health? We’ll answer them as thoughtfully as possible to avoid ruining the discourse.

The Makeup of a Toxic Relationship

Rough patches are normal in relationships. However, things become different if those phases get toxic.

Psychology expert Lillian Glass describes toxic relationships as “any relationship [between people who] don’t support each other, where there’s conflict and one seeks to undermine the other, where there’s competition, where there’s disrespect and a lack of cohesiveness.”

Toxic relationships usually consist of major red flags such as physical violence, verbal and emotional abuse, and disregard for boundaries. Other signs like constant emotional exhaustion and stress aren’t as obvious compared to the red flags, but they shouldn’t be brushed aside.

The Aftermath: How Toxic Relationships Affect Mental Health

A man expressing frustration Every person can benefit from understanding how toxic relationships affect mental health.

To sum up the quote above, toxic relationships are setups that make people feel devalued and degraded. As if having a mental illness isn’t enough, people suffering from them also have hazardous partners to deal with.

Toxic relationships take aim at a person’s self-esteem. Their turbulent nature generates uncertainty, triggering insecurities in the process. If left unaddressed, this will lead to diminished self-confidence and trust.

Exhaustion becomes a nagging feeling in these relationships. The negativity takes a huge toll, and people can only take too much of that. Energy levels become little to nonexistent, leaving folks too tired and demotivated to do anything else.

All these can progress into something darker. Toxic relationships can cause conditions to surface or worsen pre-existing disorders.

Don’t hesitate to seek professional assistance when dealing with such relationships. A person can always use expert help.

Addressing the Issues: How to Deal with Mental Health in a Relationship

Mental well-being is just as important as bodily health, and it won’t do if your psyche is in disarray.

We recommend taking these steps for a better mental state. Although they’re primarily for people with mental health issues, you can apply them if you want to help your partner or loved one out.

Acknowledge and accept what’s happening

People often say that the first step in solving issues is the hardest one. However, they don’t fix themselves. If you want a remedy, you’ll have to confront reality.

Self-awareness doesn’t always come easy for some, and it takes courage to admit that problems are present. Once you realize and recognize them, the path to recovery becomes much clearer.

Open up

Tell your partner about what’s happening. Communication is vital in every relationship, and keeping quiet won’t help things.

Explain your situation calmly and respectfully so they’ll have a better understanding of your struggles. Avoid attacking and blaming them because you’ll only stray from your point. When your partner has something to say, practice active listening to get a better sense of their feelings.

Temper expectations

A person’s mental health can’t improve overnight, and it’s unrealistic (and insensitive) to expect otherwise. We can’t demand people to change quickly, nor can we ask them to satisfy our needs.

Treat yourself better

Do self-love and care sound easier said than done? For some, the answer is yes. However, being kind to yourself isn’t a selfish act. Give yourself a break by taking care of your mind and body through activities like exercising, journal writing, and other enjoyable hobbies.

Practice forgiveness

Grudges may feel tempting, but they hurt more than they help. Anger may be a natural feeling, but it shouldn’t maintain a constant presence.

Learn to make peace with past pains. You don’t have to bury their existence; rather, you should exercise forgiveness to move past them. Give yourself time and space for reflection to clear your head.

Consult professional assistance when necessary

As mentioned earlier, you can always approach an expert to help you recover. There are many licensed professionals who are ready to listen to and help you. They won’t judge you for having problems.

Managing mental wellness issues while in a committed relationship is a difficult task. But fortunately, it’s not impossible. Whether you’re the person dealing with a condition or not, you should learn how to handle them. Your relationship will be much better moving forward with this section’s takeaways.

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