find out what it is, 7 symptoms and how to treat



Emotional addiction is characterized as a toxic attachment to another person. To learn more about this topic, psychologist Karyne Santiago (CRP 06/161451) explains in the article what are the causes of emotional dependence, the symptoms and how to treat it.

What is Emotional Dependence

According to Karyne, “Emotional dependence refers to an excessive lack of affection from one individual to another. When we think about addiction, we usually think about addictions, and that’s basically what happens with emotional addiction.” The psychologist explains that the dependent person feels that he cannot exist without the presence of the other. It’s as if you could only be happy, fulfilled, motivated and satisfied with the other, unconsciously disregarding your own individuality and the individuality of the subject you are attached to.

Santiago comments that this excessive attachment is more noticeable in love relationships, but it can happen in several other areas, such as family and friendship, for example. Finally, the psychologist adds that “generally, in relationships of emotional dependence there is a lot of jealousy, possessiveness, a constant desire to be “everything” for the other to have emotional stability, which ends up wearing out the relationship and causing a lot of suffering for the dependent”.

What Causes Emotional Dependence?


Karyne comments that emotional dependence can stem from a variety of factors, “ranging from brain changes that activate the brain’s reward system, to cultural factors that create an idealized and distorted view of love.”

How to Identify Emotional Dependence: 7 Symptoms That Indicate Toxic Addiction

The psychologist explains that, before talking about the characteristics of emotional dependence, it is important to say that only a specialized professional such as a psychologist or psychiatrist can determine this “diagnosis”. Aware of this, Santiago pointed out the following signs:

  • Difficulty in making individual decisions: the dependent individual acts almost like a child (not least because much of this behavior is related to childhood experiences), demanding that the other person help to make decisions for him. “This is because the person feels incapable of performing such an act,” says Karyne.
  • Submissive behavior: the dependent puts himself entirely at the other’s disposal, seeking to please him so as not to lose him and putting himself in some situations that are unpleasant to him.
  • Feeling of dissatisfaction: this feeling runs through every dependent relationship. According to the psychologist, “it is as if the dependent person never felt fulfilled with himself and needed the other at all times to make him happy, which can generate recurrent discussions and conflicts between those involved”.
  • Possessive jealousy: the individual may sometimes try to isolate the other from contact with more people, such as friends and family. This is due to the feeling of insecurity, the constant fear of losing the other person, or of ceasing to be the center of everything for the other person.
  • Need for attention: the person tends to want to be connected to another all the time, demanding attention and interest from the other. If they are far away, the dependent can request constant communication through messages or calls, says the psychologist.
  • Low self esteem: the psychologist explains that “the dependent individual generally feels inferior to other people, unable to perform tasks, insecure to take possession of their independence, which makes them put themselves in a submissive position of always wanting to please the other and wanting the another meets your needs”.
  • Need for approval: the person who is the focus of the dependency receives the demand to reaffirm the partner. “The dependent at all times expects to be approved and recognized by the other, to feel good, capable and safe”, concludes Karyne.

There are several signs that, if identified by a professional, can indicate that a person is suffering from emotional dependence. The first step, then, is to seek help from this professional to find out how to treat. With this in mind, Karyne talks a little about the treatment in the next topic.

How to Treat Emotional Dependence


The psychologist explains “that the process of elaborating emotional dependence demands psychological and, in some cases, psychiatric care. That’s because the addict is not always able to see these behaviors in themselves, and when they do, there is great difficulty in letting go of these feelings”. Thus, Karyne says that the help of family and friends can be favorable, if they rate what is happening in a welcoming way and help her to seek professional follow-up.

Finally, “psychotherapy is crucial in these cases to help self-knowledge, self-management and discover the factors that cause dependence”. Santiago explains that “emotional dependence can have other comorbidities such as anxiety disorder, depressive disorder, personality disorders, among others, which need therapeutic follow-up.”

As we have seen, emotional dependence has a multifactorial cause and can include several signs. It is important to seek psychological help to get the necessary support and be able to treat this addiction. If you’re interested in psychology and topics like that, check out our tips for keeping your mental health up to date.

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