Impact of Mental Illness on Relationships & Friendships

Impact of Mental Illness on Relationships & Friendships

Mental health issues or illnesses can wreak havoc on an individual’s everyday life that, in turn, negatively influence personal and professional relationships in the end. Undiagnosed and untreated mental health problems have been reported to harm friendships and relationships more than anything else.

So it is undoubtedly not something that should be left unattended or neglected, or it can have significant consequences for one’s relationships. More often than not, relationships and friendships are targeted due to mental health issues either because of the inability to disclose or the increased burden over the other.

This article will discuss how relationships and friendships are affected by mental health issues, how to deal with the loss of friendships in times of disparity and how to repair friendships and relationships lost because of mental illnesses.

How can Mental Health Issues Affect Relationships?

Here are the three most common ways mental health issues affect relationships:


Most relationships take a big hit when one of the partners has a mental illness and becomes a burden and codependent on the other. In such a case, one partner is incapable of handling things, and the other is taking all the burden of work and looking after the partner. This can often result in problems because of the caregiving partner’s extreme pressure and neglecting their needs. These burnouts often cause pangs of anger, annoyance, and irritability that cause the relationships to break.

In other cases, the helplessness of the compromised partner often takes over and undermines the relationship. In short, unhealthy boundaries from both sides can cause problems in a relationship with a mental health patient.

Broken Communication

If not co-dependency, then broken communication can cause a problem in relationships. Lack of understanding of their feelings can impact the relationship, which people suffering from mental health illnesses often do.

With little to no communication and the compromised partner isolated, the caregiving partner can feel sidelined or run into miscommunications that adversely affect the relationship in the long term. Feelings like guilt, anger, and hopelessness can cause rifts in what occurred to be a healthy relationship before.

Disrupted Intimacy

Mental health issues are also said to harm a couple’s sex life. Certain mental health medications cause an increased hindrance in libido, prevent orgasms, and derange arousals – which all adversely affect sex performances.

These symptoms also often cause a rift and annoyance between partners facing mental health issues and cause miscommunications. While stopping medications is not an option, in this case, mental health professionals can indeed help them cope with the problems.

How can Mental Health Issues Affect Friendships?

Mental health problems harm relationships and can also break long-lasting friendships. Here is why:

  1. Misunderstandings and rifts between friendships can become a reason for pain between two friends.
  2. This pain, in turn, can worsen the symptoms of the compromised friend rather than making them any better.
  3. Isolation and lack of communication cause misunderstandings and a sense of distance between friends that cause breakups.
  4. One of the other falls into unhealthy expectations and drifts apart when none of them is met.

Mental health problems cause a lack of energy, isolation, and a lack of sense of belonging with people around. This has often resulted in friends ghosting the others and cancelling plans, which gives rise to miscommunication and a sense of abandonment.

But despite it all, an individual as a friend must understand the battles their friends with mental health issues are fighting and be there for them by keeping their judgments aside. 

How to Deal with Loss of Friends because of Mental Health Issues?

Mental health problems left undiagnosed and untreated become a primary source of losing friends and relationships. But in the end, prioritising the betterment of mental health and treatment is better than drifted friendships and lost relationships. With that being said, the loss does not come easy.

Here are some ways to deal with lost friendships due to mental health problems:

  1. Accept the fate of your friendship and find closure in breaking apart.
  2. Focus and appreciate the loved and close ones you have that never leave your side despite any hardship.
  3. Prioritise self-care and make it a priority. Focus on getting better.
  4. The most significant help is when you talk to someone. In case of mental health issues, professionals can come off a lot of help.

How to Repair Broken Relationships After Mental Health Treatment?

Mental health issues and illnesses can impact your relationships or friendships or even drift apart. 

But once you are better, there is always room for some repair. The hollow cracks can always be filled to make the wall whole again. Isolation and the tendency to drift apart from any human connection from lack of energy is a common cause of mental health issues.

But here are some things that you can do to repair those relationships and bring those people back into your life:

  1. Share what you have been through and how you have felt during the period of isolation.
  2. Clear all their doubts and misunderstandings regarding your behaviour.
  3. If possible, have your partner or friend sit down with your mental health professional, and they will help define all your behavioural causes to them.
  4. Apologise for not talking initially, but start sharing and opening up about your difficulties with them.
  5. Talk about everything that went wrong and explain the outcomes.
  6. Make them feel included in your life and share your hardships.
  7. Plan to improvise your behaviour with them and make them rectify their wrongdoings towards you too.


Mental health issues are always treatable if you are open to seeking help and getting treated. While there have been a ton of losses during your hardships, they can always be rectified. However, people who have been bad for your mental health deserve to stay out of your life. So not every loss is one to mourn about.