What is Attachment Disorder? Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

Some people, especially young children, and infants have difficulty developing healthy emotional connections with their caregivers and parents. Today, we’ll discuss what is attachment disorder; its symptoms, causes, and treatment.

What is Attachment Disorder? 

Attachment disorder is a condition that makes it difficult for children to develop a healthy emotional connection with others. It comprises of overly emotional connection and limited emotional response. The condition would make it hard for young people to develop healthy and meaningful relationships with others when they grow old.

Many psychologists and experts believe that the condition happens due to insufficient caregiving to the person in early childhood. It could be experiencing traumatic events, neglect, or emotional or physical abuse.

Attachment Disorder in Adults

DSM-5 hasn’t included the attachment disorder in the latest edition as a separate condition. But many people experience attachments issues in their adulthood. Some people would experience the lingering symptoms of DSED and RAD if undiagnosed in early childhood.

If RAD and DSED are left untreated at an early age, the symptoms would persist in adulthood. For instance, adults with attachments issues would experience difficulty with self-disclosure with themselves and intimacy issues with their partners.

Attachment Theory 

Attachment theory explains how you develop emotional and intimate connections with others. Psychologist John Bowlby floated this theory while studying upset children when separated from their parents. Children need parents or caregivers to satisfy their basic needs. Bowlby used the term attachments behaviors to prevent the separation or finding their lost parents; it comprises of holding on to the parents, searching, and crying.

The study of Bowlby on attachments established the grounds for later studies on attachments issues among adults. When people grow old, they develop their own attachments style based on the attachments style they have learned in their childhood. Studies have shown that attachment styles impact your overall happiness.

Types of Attachment Disorders 

The two main types of attachments disorders are as follows;

Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder (DSED)

DSED is a condition when a person becomes overly friendly with strangers and unknown people. Kids with DSED condition would keep on wandering, touching, and hugging strange adults, and contacting strangers without any hesitation. Such children with this condition would talk and be friendly with adults without the permission of their parents.

Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)

RAD comprises of emotional withdrawal of children towards their caregivers and parents. Kids with RAD would experience fear, irritability, and sad feeling when they’re accompanying their caregivers in their daily routine activities.

Kids with RAD conditions are non-responsive to comfort when they’re feeling sad. The bad experience they have faced in their childhood would make it difficult for them to develop an emotional connection with others.

Symptoms of Attachment Disorder 

Some of the main symptoms of attachment disorder are as follows;

  • Listless or withdrawn mood
  • Watching others playing games but not joining them
  • Self-destructive behavior
  • Poor impulse control
  • Oppositional behaviors
  • Limited affections and intimacy with their caregivers
  • Lower fear of strangers
  • Not making eye contact
  • A higher burst of anger
  • Failing to smile
  • Higher clinginess
  • Hurting and bullying other

Relevant Conditions 

Kids with attachments disorders would experience behavioral, emotional, social, and academic issues. They’re at the risk of getting involved in legal issues at a very young age. Kids with attachments condition would have lower IQ. A study in 2013 showed that kids with attachments issues would also experience other psychotic disorders like;

  • Tic disorder is 1%
  • Specific phobia is 14%
  • Autism spectrum disorder is 14%
  • PTSD is 19%
  • Conduct disorder is 29%
  • The oppositional defiant disorder is 29%
  • ADHD is 52%

Causes of Attachment Disorder 

Researchers don’t exactly know why some children develop attachments disorders and the other kids don’t while living in the same environment. Many researchers have agreed that it happens due to growing up in the institutional system, change of caretakers repetitively, and deprivation or neglect.

Some of the main factors that could amplify the risk of developing the attachment disorder are as follows;

  • Exposure of parents to the alcohol
  • Parents with psychological conditions
  • Neglect of parents
  • Anger issues of parents
  • Poor parenting skills
  • Emotional, physical, or sexual abuse

Treatment of Attachment Disorder 

If the children keep on moving from one house to another, they would have difficulty developing healthier relationships with their caretakers. Even when children are finally put in a loving family environment, the symptoms of detachment won’t go away immediately. In fact, their behavioral issues would repel everyone around them that treats them kindly. Some of the main treatment plans are as follows;

Social Skill Training

As the name implies, it teaches children how to better communicate and interact with others in the social and school setting environment. Children have to practice their social skills with caregivers and therapists in order to gain confidence and experience.

Family Therapy

The focus of family therapy is to help the child, family members, and caregivers; it encourages them of finding new ways of interacting with one another in a better way.

Conclusion: What is Attachment Disorder? Symptoms, Causes, Treatment 

After an in-depth study of what is attachment disorder; its symptoms, types, causes, and treatment; we have realized that attachments disorders could disturb a child’s life. If you’re experiencing this in any of the children, then you should refer them to the therapist as soon as you can.