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Unhealthy relationships: the physical effects

Updated: Dec 7, 2023

An unhealthy relationship is a relationship between two people where one or maybe both people in the relationship feel upset, fearful or stressed more often than they feel happiness.

An unhealthy relationship can occur in any relationship. For example, between a parent and their child, between a boyfriend and girlfriend/husband and wife, between people who consider themselves as friends.

An unhealthy relationship can be easy to spot from the outside, but more difficult to recognise when the person is in the middle of one.

Being in an unhealthy relationship may physically affects on a person, including:

  • If the relationship is violent, a person may experience bruises, fracture, burns on their body.

  • A person could experience a lack of sleep due to the constant worry and fear of the violence continuing or when it may occur again and this may cause them to be constantly tired.

  • This lack of sleep may affect the person’s immune system and they may be more prone to common colds, being run down, illness.

  • Due to the nature of the physical/violent relationship, a person may suffer health related issues such as high blood pressure or issues with their heart and may need to be prescribed medication by the GP to bring it under control.

  • Due to the difficulties a person may turn to alcohol or substance abuse to attempt to deal with the unhealthy relationship. This may result in an addiction which may have a lasting impact on their health.

What could a person do in an unhealthy relationship?

- A person could try and talk things through with the other person and try to come up with an agreed way forward.

- A person could try spending more time together and understanding each other better.

- A person could use talking therapies such as:

If the relationship has become violent a person should:

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