Can mental illness cause an affair? When it comes to mental illness and breakdowns, there is never a clear answer as to what can happen. People handle their mental instability in many ways, and some can’t handle those breakdowns at all. How that unfolds is different for everyone. However, there is no denying that there is a connection between mental breakdowns and infidelity.
So can a mental breakdown lead to an affair? Yes, but not always. Here is what you need to know.
What Is A Mental Breakdown?
Mental illness affects millions of Americans throughout the world. In 2019, there were over 51.5 million US adults impacted by some form of mental disorder. Some of these issues can be debilitating, including a nervous breakdown, also known as a mental breakdown.
A mental breakdown is much like anxiety, where you struggle to cope with stress and triggers and end up feeling extremely overwhelmed. Usually, mental breakdowns are partnered with unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as substance abuse and alcohol.
Every instance of “breaking” is unique and based on the individual’s stressors. And, if the infamous mental breakdowns of Britney Spears in 2007 and 2008 are any clue, many individuals end up hospitalized and in need of serious medical assistance.
The Connection Between Mental Breakdowns And Affairs
When you feel depressed or anxious or overwhelmed, one of the underlying similarities is a lack of control. While many people can overcome these feelings in a healthy way, be it through therapy, exercise, medication, mindfulness, or a combination of that, some mentally ill people can’t.
Some people decide to numb themselves out with drugs, alcohol, or even sex. In fact, studies have found that people suffering from mental health issues often act out in a sexual way. This can lead to affairs. Even individuals with unchecked ADD/ADHD struggle with impulsivity and lack of control may lead to frequent infidelity.
The other thing we can’t overlook is trauma. Many people who have mental breakdowns have endured an immense trauma (or many) in their life, and they are unable to cope. Trauma can alter the way the brain deals with stress, making them spiral out of control. People with bipolar disorder may experience periods of increased hypersexuality.
What happens when you lack self-control? Addictions and hook-ups, to name a few. Those on the verge of mental breakdown may even crave the adrenaline that an affair often brings. The fear of getting caught paired with the pleasure of being with another person is irresistible to those with addictive personalities.
Can A Mental Breakdown Lead To An Affair?
By now, you have sorted through enough evidence to conclude that, yes, a mental breakdown can lead to an affair. When a person is spiraling down toward rock bottom, they may defy their relationship and look for something dangerous and exciting.
Mental illness, no matter the form, can make denying physical intimacy difficult, especially if the marriage or relationship has been impacted negatively. If you or a loved one is susceptible to mental breakdowns, it is important to understand this vulnerability.
Plus, while there is no true justification for the hurt and pain an affair causes, understanding how terrible mental breakdowns may make forgiving them for their actions easier.
Preventing Affairs From Happening During Bad Mental Health
Since mental breakdowns are the manifestation of severe and uncontrolled stress, it is essential that you or your partner first learn better-coping techniques. Dealing with such psychological trauma alone can be difficult. When that mental breakdown is paired with an affair, getting over the hurdle is going to be even more challenging.
Counteract that by communicating with one another. If you are having a poor mental health day, let your partner know. Be open about your stress and what is happening in your life, so they understand and don’t leave you feeling unwanted or neglected. This is part of giving your partner emotional security, where they feel more capable of dealing with life’s challenges because they have you on their side.
If you or your partner have been prone to bouts of cheating during mental breakdowns in the past, it’s important that you both attend therapy. Perhaps the underlying issues can be addressed, and you can also work to forgive one another. Smoothing out any problems within the relationship can also ease some of the burdens on you both, and that may reduce the risk of any future mental breakdowns.
Can a mental breakdown lead to an affair? There is no denying there is a connection. Poor mental health can lead to a lack of self-control and a need for intimacy. These may drive someone to cheat on their partner, especially when they are suffering from a nervous collapse.
While mental illness can make maintaining a steady relationship difficult, it doesn’t have to be impossible. Learning how to communicate with one another and discussing vulnerabilities can strengthen your relationship. When you know that you have a supportive partner on your side, you will be able to handle anything.
Couples Academy can teach you how to do just that. Give us a call today to learn more about our counseling programs.