If your mood, happiness, and identity is defined by another person, then you could be in a codependent relationship.Shutterstock

The word “codependent” gets thrown around a lot. There are codependent couples, codependent companions, and codependent caretakers. But what does codependent actually mean — and is it really all that bad?

What Is Codependency?

“Codependency is typically discussed in the context of substance use, where one person is abusing the substance, and he or she depends on the other person to supply money, food, or shelter. But codependency is much broader than that,” says Jonathan Becker, DO, an associate professor of clinical psychiatry at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.