18 Signs Of Abandonment Trauma You Might Relate To And How To Thrive Again

 / 

,
Abandonment Trauma Symptoms And How To Recover From It

Ever find yourself grappling with the fear of being left alone? Let’s learn about abandonment trauma symptoms – how it sneaks in, messes with your head, and, most importantly, how to heal from it!

What is Abandonment Trauma?

From the moment we are born, we start forming attachments to our parents, grandparents, caregivers, and other family members. These attachments are necessary for physical, emotional, and psychological development. It lays a strong foundation for understanding how to build healthy relationships in the long run.

Love, affection, and nurture helps a child grow into a healthy adult, with high self-esteem and a sense of security. They know no fear and always confident in exploring the world or seeking new experiences. 

But, if a child is neglected in the early years or grows up in an environment that lacks affection, nurture, and support; the child may experience what is known as abandonment trauma also known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) of abandonment.

Read How Childhood Trauma Impacts our Physical, Emotional and Relational Health

Signs of Abandonment Trauma Or PTSD Of Being Abandoned

Understanding Abandonment Trauma info
18 Signs Of Abandonment Trauma You Might Relate To And How To Thrive Again

The effect of trauma may vary from person to person depending on biological, financial, social, environmental factors. But, there are some abandonment trauma symptoms that indicate a person is living with hidden pain. 

  • Broken relationships or friendships, separation from lover/partner, feeling unattached or emotionally unavailable to connect.
  • Fear of loneliness or being abandoned.
  • Holding on to toxic or abusive relationships, to avoid feeling lonely or abandoned.
  • Giving too much or being overly eager to please
  • Jealousy in your relationship or of others
  • Having difficulty in feeling intimate emotionally
  • Avoiding all relationships or friendships.
  • Low self-esteem and self-worth.
  • Lack of trust within the relationship
  • Anxiety and depression.
  • Feelings of unsafety, helplessness, inadequacy, and being “not enough.”
  • Self-destructive behaviors.
  • Fear of conflict within a relationship, or avoiding the conflict at all costs.
  • Reacting too much or not at all to difficult situations.
  • An excessive need for control over other people or situations.
  • Self-judgment and perfectionism.
  • Setting unrealistic expectations. 
  • Emotional flashbacks, leading to feelings of panic or intense emotional distress.
Over-explaining Yourself Is A Trauma Response
18 Signs Of Abandonment Trauma You Might Relate To And How To Thrive Again

Read A Guide To Understanding The Fear Of Abandonment And Object Constancy

Causes of Abandonment Trauma

1. Abandonment trauma is caused by adverse experience or experiences in childhood that leave you feeling insecure, fearful, and lonely. 
2. Growing up with severe emotional distrust has a negative impact on a person’s physical and mental health. 
3. A child having unhealthy attachments, loss of a strong relationship, or a dysfunctional family such as –

  • Family instability due to parental disputes or separation due to divorce
  • Death of parents or caregivers who the child depended on to feel safe and loved
  • Emotionally unavailable family or a parent who is only sporadically engaged with the child.
  • Childhood neglect due to mental health issues (such as depression in the parent) or substance abuse (such as alcoholism or drug abuse)
  • Childhood neglect due to physical illness (such as paralysis) leaving the parent unable to fulfill the child’s basic needs like love and attention  

Impact of Abandonment Trauma on child development

Whether it is due to parental divorce or dysfunctional family or any other reason that parent or caregiver is not able to love protect and care for their child, abandonment trauma leaves a child feeling unloved, unimportant, unsafe, and unsure of how to meet their personal needs. 
Such children lack a sense of stable and safe relationships throughout their developmental years. They don’t know how to build and grow healthy relationships even in adulthood. 

Abandonment Trauma Will Lead You To Sabotage Your Relationships
18 Signs Of Abandonment Trauma You Might Relate To And How To Thrive Again

Strong family relationships and support in early life help children develop the ability to identify – danger, toxic relationships, when and how to bond with new people, and meet personal needs.

But, adults who never received love and care in developmental years, fail to trust, identify danger, toxicity and are prone to betrayal, abusive relationships, and emotional distress. They develop trust issues and lack the ability to love and be loved by another person.  

Over time, they develop poor brain function and psychological well-being. Many studies have reported high rates of eating disorders, substance use disorders, relationship difficulties, and mental health disorders in adults with abandonment trauma. 

Besides parents not being able to care for the child due to divorce or mental/physical illness or influence of alcohol, there are many other causes of abandonment trauma or PTSD of abandonment.

Not every person with traumatic experiences in childhood suffers long-term issues as a result. They may contribute to problems later in life especially when combined with other forms of trauma or other family problems.

Existing studies show that abandonment trauma more commonly occurs during the developmental years of childhood and early adulthood. But, the events that trigger abandonment trauma can happen at any time in life. For example, adults may experience abandonment trauma due to the sudden death of a partner or divorce. The bereaved person may feel insecure, unloved, and less equipped to have healthy relationships in the future.

3 Types of Abandonment Issues

Insecure attachment styles lead to abandonment issues. There are three attachment styles –  

1. Avoidant Attachment Style

People with this attachment style stay aloof, private, or withdrawn and don’t let anyone come closer to them.  

Read 5 Signs Of Unhealthy Attachment In Relationships

2. Anxious attachment style

People with this style of attachment develop intensely close and dependent relationships with others. They feel anxious at the thought of separating from their partner or loved one.  So, they tend to be emotionally reactive and act out of fear. 

3. Disorganized Attachment Style

This attachment style makes people anxious at the thought of being in a relationship. They want to avoid intimacy or closeness but can be inconsistent. This attachment style comes with other potential disorders. 

understanding attachment theory
18 Signs Of Abandonment Trauma You Might Relate To And How To Thrive Again

Read The 7 Kinds Of Hidden Trauma That Shouldn’t Be Ignored

Treating Abandonment Trauma In Adults

The aim of abandonment trauma treatment is to help people:

  • Overcome fears
  • Trust and build healthy relationships.
  • Avoid self-sabotage in relationships as a result of anxiety.
  • Avoid the tendency to isolate or withdraw from others.
  • Develop high self-esteem and self-worth lost due to traumatic experiences in childhood.
  • Cope up with anxiety, stress, and interpersonal conflicts 
  • Managing co-occurring disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, and other conditions that can fuel the eating disorder.

Read The Reason Emotional Trauma Doesn’t Heal and How to Overcome It

Recovering from abandonment trauma requires a comprehensive approach that lays the groundwork for long-term recovery.

Steps of abandonment trauma treatment:

1. Identify triggers

The first and foremost step to treat abandonment trauma is to identify the triggers and practice withdrawing when these triggers come up.

2. Talk to someone

This is another effective way to deal with abandonment issues. Vent out your frustration, insecurities, or fear in front of your partner or a family member, or a trusted friend. Get more comfortable talking about your feelings in a calm and respectful member. 

3. Mental health professional 

Consulting a licensed counselor or psychiatrist and seeking therapy is a very crucial step.  Therapy (such as cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy), counseling, and trauma treatment techniques such as EMDR –  are effective in overcoming the abandonment trauma. 

Therapy is the mode of treatment designed to identify the root of abandonment issues, need to control, fears and negative thought patterns and replace them with healthy, positive, and more realistic thoughts. The health team will also try to find issues with anxiety, obsessions or compulsions, a desire to control, and past traumas. 

I knew I was Healing When I started responding rather than reacting
18 Signs Of Abandonment Trauma You Might Relate To And How To Thrive Again

Approaching a therapist for abandonment trauma can also make you feel secured. The mental health professional will teach you how to establish boundaries in relationships, foster healthy bonding, and avoid toxicity or abuse. Individuals learn how they deserve to be treated by those they interact with, and those they love.

A Mental health professional will design a treatment plan (which may also include medication) based on your specific needs and teach you healthy coping skills.

They may use a multidisciplinary approach to treat co-occurring disorders emanating from abandonment issues. It is important for you to avail right resources and support to treat abandonment trauma. 

4. Self-care

self-care is also addressing your own problematic thoughts and behaviours
18 Signs Of Abandonment Trauma You Might Relate To And How To Thrive Again

This is another powerful weapon that will help you fight abandonment trauma according to studies. Health care experts have emphasized the concept of self-care time and again whether it is dealing with physical health issues or mental illnesses. 

Self-care activities like journaling, taking walks, or drawing – help a person meet his or her emotional needs, which in turn improves friendships and relationships. Doing what you enjoy will give you a sense of fulfillment and improve your contributions to your family members, friends, or children.

Self-care may also involve residential treatment (supported by experts) for eating disorders such as following a healthy diet and recommendations given by a nutritional counselor. 


That’s all about abandonment trauma. I hope that you understood how lack of love and care in early childhood can scar children for the rest of their lives. If you think you are suffering from abandonment trauma or know anyone who needs treatment, please refer to mental health professional and avail best services and support.

Please share this article with anyone who you may think will find it valuable and helpful. 


References

  • Purcell, W. J. (1996). The attachment-trauma complex. The American journal of psychoanalysis, 56(4), 435-446.
  • Haynal, A. (1989). The concept of trauma and its present meaning. International review of psycho-analysis, 16, 315-321.
  • Van der Kolk, B. A. (2007). The Developmental Impact of Childhood Trauma.
  • Van der Kolk, B. A., Perry, J. C., & Herman, J. L. (1991). Childhood origins of self-destructive behavior. American journal of Psychiatry, 148(12), 1665-1671.
  • Kira, I., Lewandowski, L., Somers, C. L., Yoon, J. S., & Chiodo, L. (2012). The effects of trauma types, cumulative trauma, and PTSD on IQ in two highly traumatized adolescent groups. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 4(1), 128.
  • Hurvich, M. (2004). Psychic trauma and fears of annihilation. Living with terror, working with trauma: A clinician’s handbook, 51-66.
  • Brennan, K. A., & Shaver, P. R. (1998). Attachment styles and personality disorders: Their connections to each other and to parental divorce, parental death, and perceptions of parental caregiving. Journal of personality, 66(5), 835-878.
  • Viniegra, C. C., & Aumeunier-Gizard, M. F. (2021). Facilitating integrated mental, emotional, and physical states in children who have suffered early abandonment trauma. European Journal of Trauma & Dissociation, 5(4), 100214.
  • Lawson, D. M. (2017). Treating adults with complex trauma: An evidence‐based case study. Journal of Counseling & Development, 95(3), 288-298.
  • Brown, M. Z., & Dahlin, K. (2017). Dialectical behavior therapy for treating the effects of trauma.

Understanding Abandonment Trauma pin
18 Signs Of Abandonment Trauma You Might Relate To And How To Thrive Again
Understanding Abandonment Trauma Recovery pin
18 Signs Of Abandonment Trauma You Might Relate To And How To Thrive Again
abandonment trauma
18 Signs Of Abandonment Trauma You Might Relate To And How To Thrive Again

— Share —

— About the Author —

Leave a Reply



Up Next

When Therapy Gets Intense: Exploring Negative Transference

Exploring Negative Transference: When Therapy Gets Intense

Have you ever heard of the term “negative transference”? Well, negative transference can turn therapy sessions into an emotional rollercoaster, and make them unexpectedly intense. Does your therapist suddenly feel like an annoying sibling or a strict teacher? Well, maybe that is what is negative transference.

KEY POINTS:

Transference is a psychological experience that originates in childhood and is revived in psychoanalysis.

Melanie Klein’s concept of envy is a major contribution to understanding negative transference.

Devaluing the analysis and showing indifference to the analyst can prevent a working alliance.



Up Next

What Is Irrational Guilt And How Can You Overcome It?

What Is Irrational Guilt And How Can You Overcome It?

There are so many people in this world who suffer from irrational guilt over things that were completely out of their control. It’s a heavy burden to carry and if you are one of them, then know that you are not alone. Living with irrational guilt is heartbreaking, but overcoming irrational guilt is not as impossible as it may seem.

KEY POINTS:

Many people suffer from irrational guilt, blaming themselves for things over which they had no control.

The guilt is based on the conviction that they had the power to control a terrible event or situation.

Self-forgiveness requires giving up illusion of omnipotence.



Up Next

The Zeigarnik Effect: The Reason You Feel Constantly Overwhelmed

The Zeigarnik Effect: Why You Feel Constantly Overwhelmed

Ever wonder why your to-do list seems to weigh you down, even when you haven’t touched it in hours? That’s the Zeigarnik effect in play! It’s the sneaky reason you can’t stop thinking about unfinished tasks and feel constantly overwhelmed. But don’t worry, we will discuss how to overcome Zeigarnik effect.

You know how having too many open Chrome tabs bogs your computer down?

The same happens to your brain.

Unfinished tasks keep “running” in the background.

It’s called the Zeigarnik Effect.

Here’s how it works and what to do about it…



Up Next

Panic Disorder Awareness: How To Recognize The Signs And When To Seek Help?

Panic Disorder Awareness: What To Do When Fear Overwhelms?

Panic disorder awareness is crucial for destigmatizing mental health issues and encouraging those who suffer to seek professional help.

Fear and anxiety are natural responses to certain situations and stressful events. But sometimes, these feelings can become overwhelming and occur without a clear cause or apparent danger. This may then be called a panic attack. When panic attacks become a regular occurrence, it could lead to what’s known as panic disorder.

So, let’s dive into what panic disorder is, how to recognize its signs and symptoms, and explore available panic disorder treatment options. By spreading panic disorder awareness, we can better support those affected and promote mental well-being.



Up Next

5 Mental Health Lessons From Inside Out 2: Helping Kids Understand Difficult Emotions

Powerful Lessons from Inside Out

Disney’s Pixar has captivated audiences once again with mental health lessons from Inside Out 2, a film that not only entertains but also provides insights into our emotional lives. 

While Riley experiences puberty, new emotions in Inside Out 2 join our old friends Joy, Sadness, Anger, Disgust, and Fear. Anxiety, Envy, Embarrassment, and Ennui create different difficulties for Riley and the viewers.

Why ‘New’ Emotions Emerge in the Teen Years?

According to research one of the more difficult emotional changes in adolescence is feeling your feelings very intensely. 

During puberty, changes in your body may lead to irritability, mood swings, and self



Up Next

10 Best Self Love Songs: Your Ultimate Playlist for Boosting Happiness

Best Self Love Songs to Boost Happiness

Feeling down? Need a boost of positivity? There’s nothing like listening to the best self love songs to lift your spirits and remind you of your worth. If you’re a music lover looking to affirm your love for yourself, this playlist of self-love songs is just what you need.

They say self-love is hard to achieve. But as a music lover, I’ve found comfort and inspiration in the melodies. These two traits have guided me toward personal growth and mental peace which are the basics of self-love.

Therefore, I want to share some unique self-love songs for people who are still struggling to love themselves. These songs will definitely refresh your mood and give you a boost of positivity.

10 Best Self Love Songs: Celebrate t



Up Next

15 Ways To Keep Your Child From Developing An Eating Disorder

Eating Disorders: Ways To Protect Your Child From This

Many of us, including our kids, struggle with unhealthy diets and lack of exercise. This worrying trend leads to children developing an eating disorder, leading experts to believe that our current generation may be less healthy than their parents. Let’s find out more about children and eating disorders.

In this culture, unfortunately, many of us eat diets that aren’t very healthy, and we don’t get enough exercise. That’s true for our kids, too. In fact, experts suggest that this is the first generation that’s less healthy than their parents.

Even worse, when you mix our cultural obsession with thinness with emotional immaturity and how disconnected we often are from our own bodies, it’s a perfect storm for eating disorders.

Guess how many kids growing up in the US today develop some kin