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People with this attachment style stay aloof, private, or withdrawn and don’t let anyone come closer to them.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