It’s not enough to suffer from anxiety or depression. Now, we’re realizing that these illnesses may even cause toxic behaviors.

I live with depression and anxiety every day. It’s sometimes a struggle just to get out of bed. But, I am sure you’ve heard that before. You may have even felt the same way yourself. Now, to make things even worse, I’ve started to notice toxic behaviors in how I treat others.

Could it be that these toxic behaviors have arisen from anxiety and depression? Some think this is true.

Toxic behaviors born from mental illness

Mental illness is common. In fact, most people have at least one family member who suffers from this terrible ailment. Also, most of us have witnessed a form of toxic behavior in our families as well.

Here are a few of those toxic behaviors that just may have stemmed from mental illnesses such as anxiety or depression. Take a look.

1. Narrow-mindedness

The inability to have an open mind is a form of toxicity. Because of the turmoil that we’ve experienced in our lives, we start to label others before really getting to know them. We also form opinions with no real basis in reality.

Mental illnesses like depression and anxiety make us pass judgments on others or various situations. We see similarities between a present situation and something traumatic that happened in our pasts. This is why we make generalizations and assumptions about what will happen now. We start to form a narrow mind with limited ideas on things that are new to us. This is extremely unhealthy and hinders our ability to grow.

2. Isolation

Due to our past experiences with anxiety, we start to isolate ourselves from others. We avoid certain people at all costs because we are afraid they will reject us or make us feel inferior.

Avoidance and isolation are both forms of toxic behaviors because we can never reach our full potential by hiding away like a hermit. Even though we may be introverts, we still suffer from a lack of social stimulation. We hurt others as well by utilizing our isolating characteristics.

3. Manipulation and passive aggression

When we hear the word manipulation, we can’t imagine this describes us, right? Most people aren’t aware of their own manipulative behaviors. I, for one, did not see how I was manipulating certain friends and family members. When I realized that, yes, I was being passive aggressive, I decided to work on this negative behavior. I also realized where it came from, my mental disorders.

Manipulation and passive aggressive behavior both come from fear. Usually, we resort to these behaviors because we feel like others are ignoring us or neglecting our emotional needs. When we feel this way, we sometimes resort to passive aggression to get attention. We use manipulation in much the same way.

4. Catastrophic thinking

As a parent, I can attest to this behavior as something I have done often. Catastrophic thinking revolves around overthinking and ruminating about “the worst-case scenario”. For instance, if your child is out late, you start to think they’ve been hurt or have gotten into serious trouble with authorities.

This may not be the case, but catastrophic thinking will have you believe this as a fact. This toxic behavior comes from past experiences and depression. When you fall into depression, you are prone to think the absolute worst about any given situation. This also proves true with anxiety as well.

5. Victim mentality

Because something horrendous happened to you in the past, you are stuck in victim mentality. This behavior is so frustrating when you are dealing with someone who has been hurt. Instead of moving past the experience, the “victim” chooses to remain a victim.

Depression has them stuck in that one period of time where the “bad thing” occurred. They also choose to stay because they can reap victim spoils. In other words, they can get more attention because they are “the poor little victim”. I’ve gotten stuck here before, but I am learning to shake things off better now.

6. Shifting responsibilities

Toxic behaviors can also be seen in those who refuse to take responsibilities for their actions. These are people who can never apologize because, to them, they are never at fault. You will notice them by how they shift responsibility every time you tell them they have done something wrong. I try to catch myself when I do this, and yes, I have done this as many times in the past.

Right now, I have a friend who never accepts responsibility, even when he was the only person on the scene. :/ I am not sure, but maybe this came from the anxiety of having to receive harsh punishment. Maybe the reprimand was so severe that shirking responsibilities was the only way to avoid the abuse. I must also be careful not to make excuses for this deplorable behavior. That’s not how you help someone.

7. Self-criticism

This toxic behavior works in two ways. Either you genuinely criticize yourself too harshly out of self-hate, or you criticize yourself to gain attention, hence back to the victim mentality. In this case, when someone criticizes themselves, you have to be careful not to fall into a pattern of countering their statements.

Whatever the reason you fall into self-criticism, it’s toxic and it comes from anxiety or depression.

8. Self-absorption

Unfortunately, putting too much emphasis on self can be toxic, and it comes from rejection and abuse which turned into depression and anxiety. The response: care more about yourself and your worth. The problem: Some people just went too far with it….self-absorption was born.

I was blissfully unaware that I was becoming self-absorbed back around 2012, but I started to pay attention and worked to make it better. I still fall short of keeping my self-absorption at bay, but I keep on trying as I am supposed to do. This is why balance is so important.

Dealing with toxic behaviors

You cannot always fix toxic behaviors, especially when you’re dealing with someone else. You might be able to adjust your own problems within, but until others see the truth of their ways, you cannot help them. Depression and anxiety leave their dark mark on our world in more ways than one, so let’s continue the fight against these illnesses. We have so much work to do.

References:

  1. https://www.webmd.com
  2. https://www.psychologytoday.com


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