Codependency, Fear & Anxiety

Codependency is a set of adult behaviors that are caused by developmental trauma during the first nine months of life and has a characteristic set of identifying behaviors:


  • feelings of fear and anxiety about losing the connection to another person
  • a compulsive over-focus on other people’s activities, problems and needs that looks like an  “addiction”
  • feeling trapped in relationships
  • having low self-esteem
  • needing constant approval and support from others in order to feel good about yourself
  • feeling powerless to change destructive relationships
  • needing alcohol, food, marijuana and other “downer” substances or activities to distract you from your feelings
  • having undefined psychological boundaries
  • feeling like a martyr
  • being a people-pleaser
  • being unable to experience true intimacy and love

Codependency is Caused by Developmental Trauma

Figure 1.6 SchoreAdult co-dependency, with all its anxiety and fear, is really an attempt to heal relational or developmental trauma that occurred during the first year of life. Developmental trauma is caused by energetic disconnections between infants and their mothers and other adult caregivers that are either too long or too frequent.

Developmental trauma is unconsciously inflicted on infants without malicious intent by adult caregivers who are unaware of their social and emotional needs. Developmental trauma prevents the completion of secure bonding and other essential developmental processes during infancy.

Codependency Can Be Healed

BF smIt takes two or more people to create co-dependent relationships. Therefore, one person cannot be blamed for causing co-dependency in a relationship. Once you understand that developmental trauma causes co-dependent behaviors, you will have more compassion for yourself and your partner when they become anxious or fearful. Co-dependency is a kind of “relational brokenness” that can be healed.

If you have codependent behavior and get freaked out because you’re fearful or anxious about someone leaving you, take our Freaked Out Quiz.

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