Attachment disorders or issues are psychiatric problems that cause trouble making emotional connections with others. These issues typically begin in early childhood and may be recognizable by the time the child turns one year old.
2 types of attachment disorders
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), there are 2 types of attachment disorders:
- Reactive attachment disorder (RAD)
- Children with RAD distance themselves from other people because of a history of troublesome childhood or insecure attachment styles in their early years, which may carry over into adulthood.
- They cannot control their emotions in intense situations and do not find gestures of physical affection as comforting.
- These children exhibit no emotions when interacting with others, and they may look sad, irritable, or scared most of the time.
- Disinhibited social engagement disorder (DSED)
- Children with DSED do not have inhibitions when interacting with strangers. They may have an accepting attachment style where they accept anything from the stranger, such as food, and go with them anywhere.
- It seems they cannot distinguish between the people they know and strangers. This puts the affected children at a greater risk of unsafe situations.
What are the signs and symptoms of attachment issues?
Parents and caregivers can suspect a child has an attachment style disorder by identifying the following signs and symptoms:
- Dislike toward physical affection
- Difficulty being comforted
- Defiant behavior issues
- Anger management issues
- Inability to display care and affection toward parents or caregivers
- Tendency to hurt others
- Extreme clinginess
- Lack of fear of strangers
- Staying away from making eye contact
- Self-destructive behaviors
- Socially withdrawn
If parents or caregivers notice many of these signs in their child, they should speak to their child’s doctor at the earliest. Early treatment of attachment issues is linked with good results.
How are attachment issues treated?
Creating a stable, healthy environment and making young children feel secure is an important part of treating attachment issues. However, the attachment issues may not immediately disappear even if the child is provided with a loving and caring environment.
The affected child may require treatments that include:
- Psychotherapy: Psychotherapy for attachment disorders involves identifying problematic behavior and helping the child to deal with it. It can help children overcome the impact of negative events on their emotional status.
- Attachment-based family therapy: It is a type of family therapy in which a mental health professional helps a parent (or caregiver) and their child repair the damages in their relationship and reestablish an emotionally secure attachment.
- Social skills training: Social skills training teaches the child the appropriate behavior of interacting with others around them. Therapists and caregivers can practice situations with the child so that the child feels more confident when speaking to others.
- Parenting class: Children with attachment issues require special treatment from their parents or caregivers. Parents and caregivers can go a step ahead and join a parenting class that teaches them how to deal correctly with a child facing these issues. These classes teach strategies that can help them form a more secure attachment with these children.
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Attachment Disorders. https://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_Youth/Facts_for_Families/FFF-Guide/Attachment-Disorders-085.aspx
Top What Are Attachment Issues Related Articles
How Does Blue Light Affect Mental Health?Blue light can affect mental health by interfering with the way our brain regulates mood, emotions and sleep. Excessive blue light can cause sleep and mood disorders, leading to depression.
How Grief Can Affect Your HealthGrief is a natural part of life, but it can cause some health issues, at least for a while. Find out how grief can affect your body and what you can do about it.
Is Journaling Good for Mental Health?Journaling is the process of writing down your thoughts, ideas, and feelings. While writing your way out of depression might not be possible, journaling may help lower symptoms of depression.
Mental HealthMental health is an optimal way of thinking, relating to others, and feeling. All of the diagnosable mental disorders fall under the umbrella of mental illness. Depression, anxiety, and substance-abuse disorders are common types of mental illness. Symptoms and signs of mental illness include irritability, moodiness, insomnia, headaches, and sadness. Treatment may involve psychotherapy and medication.
Mental Health: Signs You're Mentally ExhaustedAre you irritable, tired, and finding it hard to focus? You may be mentally exhausted. Learn the signs and how to feel better.
Mental Health: Substance Abuse in Older AdultsAbuse of alcohol and drugs among older people has been called the invisible epidemic. Learn what to look out for to protect yourself or a loved one.
Panic Attacks QuizCould you suffer a panic attack? Take this Panic Attacks Quiz to learn causes, symptoms, and treatments for panic disorder. Use this quiz to learn to recognize the main elements of this serious, yet common disorder known as panic attacks.
What Are the 9 Types of Mental Disorders?Mental disorders like physical disorders have a spectrum ranging from mild to severe.
What Are the Four Main Types of Psychotherapy?There are various approaches to psychotherapy. Which type of therapy will work best may vary from person to person. Therapists often use more than one type of psychotherapy approach in helping their clients. The four most common types of psychotherapy are psychoanalysis, behavioral therapy, cognitive therapy and humanistic therapy.
What Are the Signs of Avoidant Attachment?Avoidant attachment is a type of attachment behavior where a person struggles to make intimate connections. Learn about signs in children and adults.