Attachment Disorder

Below you will find more information about Attachment Disorder from Medigest. If you believe that you are suffering from any of the symptoms of Attachment Disorder it is important that you obtain an accurate diagnosis from a medical professional to ensure that you obtain the correct medication or treatment for your condition. There are medical conditions that carry similar symptoms associated with Attachment Disorder and therefore the information provided by Medigest is offered as a guideline only and should never be used in preference to seeking professional medical advice. The information relating to Attachment Disorder comes from a third party source and Medigest will not be held liable for any inaccuracies relating to the information shown.


Attachment disorder pertains to a relatively rare but nonetheless serious mental problem characterized by the inability of infants and young children to form healthy bonds with parents and/or their primary caregivers.


If attachment disorder is suspected, a comprehensive medical and psychological evaluation must be done on the affected child. The symptoms of this disorder may mimic those of other behavioral and psychological conditions; therefore, attention must be given to the child's behavioral patterns, relationship with parents/caregivers, and overall living situation. A diagnosis is made if the child meets the main criteria outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) for attachment disorder, including: disturbed and developmentally inappropriate social relationships at age 5 and below; failure to initiate or respond to social interactions; and failure of early care to meet the child's emotional needs.


Treatment for attachment disorder is often multi-disciplinary, involving psychotherapy and some medications. Therapy usually involves the affected children and their parents and/or caregivers. Treatment is focused on creating a stable living situation for the children. While there's no standard approach to treatment, the following are the most common methods used: individual psychotherapy and family therapy; recreation or occupational therapy; parenting skill classes plus special education services; residential/inpatient treatment for patients with self-destructive tendencies; as well as standard medications to treat related conditions such as anxiety, depression, or hyperactivity.

Symptoms and Signs

Attachment disorder comes in two forms, inhibited and disinhibited. Some patients will exhibit symptoms of only one type; whereas most patients exhibit signs of both. Children with inhibited attachment disorder reject relationships with virtually everyone around them. Common signs of inhibited attachment disorder are: shunning affection from parents/caregivers; avoiding eye contact or any physical contact; difficulty being comforted; preference of being alone; and failure to communicate with others. Children with disinhibited attachment disorder may form attachments with others, but only in shallow or inappropriate forms. Signs of this type include: seeking comfort from strangers as opposed to showing anxiety towards strangers; exaggerated needs for help in doing simple tasks; inappropriate childish behavior; and constant anxiety. Other non-specific symptoms include: aggression, rage, lying, stealing, hoarding food, nonstop chatter, etc.


The cause of attachment disorder is a subject of much debate. Various theories exist to explain the condition. It has been proposed that the disorder develops as a consequence of early emotional stress; particularly children who have been neglected, abandoned in orphanages, or have no permanent caregiver. A leading theory points to the absence of a safe, stable, and nurturing environment as the primary cause of children developing attachment disorder.

Discuss Attachment Disorder in our forums

Discuss Attachment Disorder with other members of Medigest in our forums.