Relationships are extremely important to us all. That is why difficulties with our relationships can cause significant worry and concern which can lead to mental health problems.
Relationships are important to all of us, connecting with people, being close to people, gives us a sense of belonging and helps us to feel safe validated and good about ourselves. However sometimes relationships can give rise to negative feelings, like sadness, frustration, anger and a feeling of being rejected. These negative feelings can arise from time to time in a stable happy relationship because of life changes, or stressors that people may go through. Sometimes these negative feelings are there right from the beginning of the relationship but they are not addressed because of a fear that things will go wrong if they do address them.
When a relationship ends, or things start to go wrong, it feels as if the whole world has fallen apart, because very often you feel rejected and it affects your self-esteem and sense of stability, and you ask yourself again and again why it has happened. The strained relationship gives rise to distress and unhappiness.
Relationship problems can present as emotional problems like depression, anxiety, self-harm, anger and aggression, alcohol and drug misuse or eating disorders. Sometimes people will not relate these symptoms to relationship issues. A comprehensive assessment by an expert will help to uncover the relationship issues and help the person to acknowledge it.
The most common risk factor for relationship difficulties is stress, due to life changes like birth of children, bereavements, change of jobs, house moves.
Treatment depends very much on the nature of the problem. Relationships may go through difficult periods and addressing the problems in a constructive way can very often strengthen the relationship. Sometimes people feel they have reached a point where they cannot carry on with the relationship and would like to look at ending it amicably. Relationship counselling if it is acceptable to the couple is very beneficial. If the person presents with emotional problems, or substance misuse or eating problems then these problems need to be treated, and the couple in addition would also need couple counselling.