How we form bonds with other majorly impacts the quality of our lives and relationships. When a person has trouble establishing healthy attachments, they may wonder why they have difficulty in this area. They may have a diagnosable mental health condition that causes this to happen. Attachment disorder in adults affects many people. The good news is effective treatment exists for this condition.
What Is an Attachment Disorder in Adults?
Attachment disorders in adults begin during childhood. Due to not being identified and treated, many continue into a person’s adulthood. Attachment disorders cause difficulty when it comes to forming meaningful, long-term bonds with others. The person often lacks self-esteem and a healthy understanding of healthy emotions and behaviors when it comes to interacting with others.
Attachment disorders often develop as a result of childhood abuse, neglect, or abandonment. Many who develop this condition also struggle with mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and dual identity disorder.
How Many Types of Attachment Disorders in Adults Are There?
There are two types of attachment disorders in adults. The first is reactive attachment disorder. This happens when a child does not form healthy attachments with their parents or other caregivers. The person typically finds it difficult to feel comforted by others. Despite the caregivers’ best efforts, the child doesn’t display positive emotions. They may remain emotionally neutral or express feelings of unhappiness or moodiness. For many, the root cause is childhood abuse or neglect. The symptoms of the condition will be present before the child turns five.
An adult with reactive attachment disorder will display certain signs and symptoms. These include:
- Inability to show affection for others
- Difficulty showing they accept love and affection from others
- Cannot maintain meaningful and long-term romantic relationships
- Trouble forming and maintaining friendships
- Lacks trust in others
- Often feels an empty void inside themselves
- Difficulty recognizing or acknowledging emotions displayed by other
- Often irritable or angry
- Does not feel they belong with others or in groups
The other type of attachment disorder in adults is disinhibited social engagement disorder. A child who develops this tends to lack fear of strangers and can put themselves at risk as a result. This type of attachment disorder can also result from childhood abuse or neglect. Many of these kids spent time in orphanages and other temporary housing. They did not receive the kind of one-on-one personalized care usually given when growing up with a parent or other caregiver.
Common signs and symptoms of disinhibited social engagement include:
- Highly excited by interacting with strangers without worry about their safety
- Using age or socially inappropriate behavior when around strangers
- Difficulty forming meaningful bonds
- Lacking common social boundaries
- A history of seeking comfort from strangers rather than from caregivers
- Impulsive behavior in other areas
Types of Attachment Styles
Four types of attachment styles exist, and most of them develop during childhood. Attachment styles are related to how people build bonds with others, trust them, and maintain relationships. The four types of attachment styles are:
Secure vs. Insecure Attachment: Children who experience positive childhoods in which most of their needs were met develop secure attachments. They bond with themselves and others in healthy ways. Children who experienced abuse or neglect often develop an insecure attachment style. They have trouble forming bonds and trusting people. Different subtypes of insecure attachment styles exist.
Anxious Pre-occupied Attachment: This type of attachment style causes anxiety and a tendency to need constant reassurance from romantic partners and other people. When reassurance does not happen or the person does not have faith in it, it causes doubt and jealousy. The inability to see things clearly can cause discord in relationships, often leading to breakups or the end of a friendship.
Dismissive-Avoidant Attachment: This type of attachment causes difficulty in a person’s ability to want to depend on a partner or friend. Instead, they feel the pull to be alone. Often, when someone tries to grow closer to the individual, they pull away in an effort to feel safe and independent.
Fearful-Avoidant Attachment: With this type, the person wants to develop close relationships, including those with intimate partners. Yet, they experience elevated levels of concern that they will get hurt or be abandoned. The individual may develop feelings for someone but push them aside in order to protect themselves from getting hurt. For some, the feelings build up and emerge suddenly, which can overwhelm the other person.
How Are Attachment Disorders in Adults Treated?
Treating attachment disorder in adults involves taking a few different approaches. Using different types of therapy can help process trauma and other debilitating experiences that happened during childhood. This helps reduce the symptoms of attachment disorder. Therapists teach the individual to understand what happened to them and the power they have to move past it. Treatment sessions help them learn to form meaningful bonds with others.
Outpatient programs can often provide the necessary treatment needed to deal with attachment disorders. Choices like Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP), Virtual IOP, and Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP) offer several types of therapy. This allows the person to address symptoms of mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, trauma, and more. An assessment by an intake counselor at a facility can help determine which program fits each person’s situation and treatment goals.
Get Help for Adult Attachment Disorder Today in Atlanta, GA
Are you curious about how to find help for attachment disorder in adults?
New View Wellness in Atlanta provides outpatient programs designed to improve mental health disorders. We understand the challenges of having difficulty forming healthy attachments with others. Our skilled therapists and medical staff provide multiple types of therapy that treat attachment disorders. We help people learn to recognize unhealthy behavioral patterns and replace them with healthy ones.
Would you like more information about how we treat attachment disorder in adults? Contact us now and we can answer your questions about our treatment plan.