Attachment issues, lonely as they may feel, are treatable too. While these issues can take on many forms, they can be found in people of all ages to varying degrees. Secure attachments are essential to people of all ages from birth through old age. Humans are, after all, social beings.
According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, an infant’s attachment to their primary caregiver is only the beginning of what ultimately becomes a critical lifelong need for all human beings.
If you believe you or a loved one suffers from an attachment disorder, take a deep breath and realize that help is out there. Early intervention, a suitable treatment plan, and work with the right therapist can make a big positive difference.
What is an attachment disorder?
There are many forms of attachment issues and symptoms. Some are more serious than others, but all can impede a person’s overall mental health if left untreated. Identifying and recreating healthy attachment systems now will help improve mental wellness for years to come.
Diagnosable attachment disorders can develop in children very early on but are most commonly diagnosed around age nine. Identifiable as early as age one, caregivers and pediatricians can sometimes spot insecure attachments by avoidant behavior like lack of eye contact, emotional outbursts, and reluctance by the child to seek an attachment figure for help, reassurance, or comfort in times of duress.
One such childhood attachment disorder known as RAD, Reactive Attachment Disorder, can be specifically confusing for well-intentioned caregivers. Worse, it can impact normal child development both long and short term and carry into adulthood if left untreated.
Another attachment issue, social engagement disorder, can leave a person feeling alienated from the general population and affect social and romantic relationships throughout a lifetime when left untreated.
Attachment difficulties either carried on from early childhood neglect, or trauma or that develop after trauma in adulthood can damage relationships. Adult sufferers may be impulsive, reject love and intimacy, have trouble showing affection, become withdrawn or isolated, and be untrusting. They may or may not experience loneliness and will likely struggle to keep long-term and stable primary attachment relationships.
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Identifying an Attachment Insecurity
Attachment issues can take on many forms depending on their severity and the age of the sufferer. From problems with emotion regulation and dysfunctional adult attachment patterns in romantic relationships to negative experiences in jobs and educational settings, poor attachment behavior that is undiagnosed or regulated can mean intense feelings of rejection for sufferers.
What does a healthy attachment style look like?
For those who suffer from attachment disorders, it’s sometimes hard to know what a secure attachment style even looks like. Sadly, attachment disorders often run through families where a secure base has never been established through family dynamics. There are people whose family of origin and primary relationship models have never experienced healthy attachment bonds. For some, emotional closeness is not the norm in their adult relationships simply because they have never been part of a healthy family system. This is where professionals can come in and help you begin to untangle attachment issues.
Where do I find help for attachment issues?
If you or a friend or family member is suffering from attachment issues that make relationships difficult, there is help and finding a therapist is a good first step. Your willingness to put your mental health first will go a long way in treating this lonely condition. Whether you believe you’ve suffered since infancy, been misdiagnosed with a borderline personality disorder, felt misunderstood in couples therapy, or are unsure of how to even identify a healthy attachment relationship, you’ve come to the right place. Therapists and psychiatrists can use diagnostic criteria to determine your exact diagnosis. They can work with you to create a treatment plan and offer healthy attachment bond exercises too. They will work to help you identify your attachment patterns and learn new skills to keep you more connected.
The only accurate way to know if you or your loved one suffers from an attachment disorder is to seek professional help. However, there are also ways to observe your close relationships, responses, attachment patterns, and overall intimacy to begin to identify if this could be an issue in your life. While insecure attachment styles can be problematic, they are also treatable and aren’t necessarily signs of reactive attachment disorder.
If you believe you suffer from an attachment disorder or have separation issues, seek professional help. To locate a therapist who specializes in this problem, WithTherapy can point you in the right direction. With licensed professionals who specialize in attachment theory, not only in adults but children and adolescents too, WithTherapy will be a great resource in helping you locate the right person with the proper diagnostic tools to help you.