Reactive Attachment Disorders in Adults

Reactive Attachment Disorders in Adults

Reactive attachment disorder (RAD) is a mental health condition that can have serious and long-lasting effects on an individual’s ability to form healthy relationships with those around them. While it is most often associated with children, RAD can also affect adults. In this article, we will discuss the causes of RAD in adults, its symptoms, treatment options, and how to support a loved one who may be struggling with RAD. 

What Causes RAD in Adults? 

RAD is caused by a disruption or lack of a secure attachment between the child and their primary caregiver during the first few years of life. This often occurs when the child has been neglected or abused, experiences multiple changes in caretakers, or does not receive consistent and reliable care. The result is an inability for the child to trust others and form meaningful relationships later on in life. 

Common Symptoms of Reactive Attachment Disorder in Adults 

The symptoms of RAD in adults vary from person to person, but some of the most common signs include difficulty forming and maintaining close relationships, being overly sensitive to criticism, having low self-esteem, showing aggression toward others, and displaying a lack of empathy for others. These symptoms can lead to difficulties with forming intimate relationships and trusting other people. 

Other symptoms may include difficulty showing affection or expressing emotions appropriately, an inability to maintain healthy boundaries in relationships, feeling emotionally disconnected from those around them, difficulty expressing vulnerability or dependency on others, and feeling constantly on guard. People with RAD may also experience feelings of worthlessness or shame when trying to connect with others. They may also struggle with social anxiety and fear abandonment by those they care about. 

Treating RAD in Adults 

The first step toward treating adult RAD is recognizing the signs and understanding that they are connected to unresolved childhood trauma or attachment issues. It’s important to note that treatment should be tailored to each individual’s unique needs and circumstances. A combination of therapy methods may be used to help individuals manage their symptoms, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), psychodynamic therapy, play therapy, interpersonal therapy (IPT), mindfulness-based therapies (MBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR) as well as other types of talk therapies.  Additionally, medications may be prescribed if needed but should only be used as part of an overall treatment plan designed to address all aspects of the disorder.  

Therapy for Adult RAD 

Treating adult reactive attachment disorder involves first recognizing that there are underlying issues that need to be addressed before any progress can be made. Therapy sessions should focus on helping individuals identify and understand their triggers so they can learn strategies for managing them more effectively going forward. 

Through cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) sessions and mindfulness practices such as yoga and meditation, individuals can learn how to cope better with feelings of distress and establish healthier relationships with those around them. Additionally, support groups may be helpful for those struggling with adult reactive attachment disorder as they provide a safe space where individuals can share their experiences without judgment while receiving support from others who are going through similar difficulties.  
Reactive attachment disorder (RAD) is a serious mental health condition that affects one’s ability to form meaningful relationships with those around them. While it is most often associated with children, it can also affect adults as well. It is important to understand how RAD develops so that proper treatment can be sought out if needed. If you know someone who may be struggling with RAD, then reach out to offer your support and encourage them to seek professional help if needed so they can begin their journey toward healing.

About the author
Mrs. Hatland is a 30-something married, mom of 7 and the face behind the popular online publication, Motherhood Defined. Known as the Iowa Mom blogger by her local peers and “The Fairy Blogmother” worldwide. She has professional experience in working closely with clients on brand ambassadorships, client outreach services, content creation and creative social media advertising exposure.

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