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How Do I Know if I Have an Attachment Disorder?

Parents or caregivers often influence the personality of the children they raise. For example, a child’s mood, behavior, or social relationships can suffer when raised by someone emotionally unavailable or abusive.

When Does Attachment Happen?

Infants rely on their caregivers to protect and care for them. Attachment theorists believe infants and children know without being told to signal their needs, fear, or sickness to a primary caregiver. Children raised by caregivers who listen and take care of them form secure attachments to their primary caregiver(s). Unfortunately, ignored or neglected children don’t develop safe relationships, leaving them insecure.

When children feel they can’t depend on those who are supposed to care for them, they can lack trust in others. The lack of confidence in others follows them throughout their childhood and can affect how they interact with their peers.

What Causes an Attachment Disorder?

Primary caregivers influence the lives of children. For example, a child raised in a home where they aren’t loved or cared for may not learn how to form emotional bonds with others. Similarly, physically, sexually, or emotionally abused children can have trouble forming healthy friendships.

The study “Attachment Difficulties and Disorders,” published in the journal InnovAiT, outlines attachment disorders’ causes. For example, the researchers found that children who become a part of the foster care system often experience abuse or neglect. Frequent upheavals in the lives of these children, switching from home to home in their early years (before the age of three), prevent them from bonding with a caregiver.

The lack of stability and the increased risk of experiencing abuse diminishes people’s ability to trust others.

What Are the Types of Attachment Disorders?

There are two types of attachment disorders: reactive attachment disorder and disinhibited social engagement disorder.

Reactive Attachment Disorder

Symptoms of reactive attachment disorder include:

  • Rarely seeking or responding to comfort when distressed
  • Nominal emotional or social responses to people
  • Occurrences of unexplained sadness, fearfulness, or irritability when around non-threatening adults

This disorder can occur when the child has experienced repeated changes in caregivers and when their emotional needs have consistently not been met.

Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder

Symptoms of disinhibited social engagement disorder include:

  • Reduced fear of interacting with unknown adults
  • Behavior that is not approved of by society; for example, a child sitting on a stranger’s lap
  • A lack of checking in with an adult, even if a child is in an unfamiliar place
  • The willingness to go off with a stranger

How Do I Know if I Have an Attachment Disorder?

Unfortunately, there is little research to identify attachment disorders in adults. If you had a childhood similar to the one described above, you can talk to a therapist about your childhood and your relationships with others.

Children who are neglected or abused or who lack a stable caregiver can develop attachment disorders. These disorders affect how a child responds to adults by being emotionally unavailable or having an inappropriate amount of trust. While it is difficult to diagnose an attachment disorder in adults, therapists can help you understand how your childhood affects your relationships. The Guest House provides attachment disorder therapy. We can explore how abuse, neglect, or instability shaped you. By participating in individualized treatment, you can discover how to form healthy relationships. We welcome your questions about our location in Florida or our services. Call us at (855) 483-7800.