Overview of Attachment Anxiety

Attachment anxiety is when you feel anxious about your relationship with your loved ones (including parents, friends, and partners). It usually stems from childhood experiences. Although the exact causes of anxious attachment are not fully understood, they may stem from negative experiences or inconsistent parenting styles.

Safe attachment to caregivers is essential for healthy development. Bad attachment early in life can have lasting effects. These attachments can also continue into adulthood and have a negative impact on adult relationships.

Anxious attachment, also known as ambivalent attachment or anxious engrossed attachment, is one of the four main types of attachment identified by psychologists.

This article discusses the symptoms, causes, and treatment of attachment anxiety. It also covers how you will respond if you or your partner have an anxious attachment style.


Attachment theory is the underlying premise behind our understanding of attachment anxiety. It was first proposed by psychologist John Bowlby in the 1950s.

Bowlby believes that your sense of security as a child is crucial to your attachment style as an adult. In addition, the treatment you receive throughout your life will affect your expectations of how others will support you.

In other words, how do you answer the question, “If I am not happy, can I count on my partner?” It reflects the knowledge you have learned and the treatment you have received throughout your life. It is a model of how you expect others to treat you and how you think of yourself.

Attachment style

Generally speaking, there are four recognized types of adult attachment:

  • Anxiety: People with this attachment style have difficulty trusting others. They worry that people will abandon them, so they usually look clingy or need help.
  • Avoidant: This attachment style is characterized by intimacy problems and low emotional investment in relationships.
  • Disorganized: This style is characterized by multiple behaviors, from avoidance to clinging. People with this style often desire close relationships, but they are also afraid of trusting others and being hurt.
  • Security: The characteristic of secure attachment is the trust and sense of security in the relationship. As children, children feel safe and have the support of their caregivers. As adults, people with this attachment style can build lasting relationships.
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The first three styles are insecure and reflect bad functions in interpersonal relationships.


How will people with attachment anxiety disorder behave? These symptoms may be similar to children and adults, but there are some important differences. The following is an overview of some of the most common symptoms.

Signs of anxious attachment in children

Children with anxious attachment styles often experience:

  • anxiety
  • Afraid of strangers
  • Extreme pain when separated from parents
  • Weeping caregiver cannot be easily comforted
  • Attachment to parents and caregivers
  • Not explore like other kids
  • Difficulty controlling negative emotions
  • Bad relationship with other children

Signs of anxious attachment in adults

Adults with anxious attachment styles often have:

  • The act of strangling or driving away their partner
  • Constantly need the contact and support of others
  • Fear of being underestimated
  • Not sure if the partner is trustworthy
  • Hypersensitivity to rejection and abandonment
  • Need to increase the sense of security
  • Negative self-perception or self-worth
  • Positive views of your partner
  • Watch out for signs of partner alienation
  • Worried about losing partners
  • Desire to be more intimate and safer with others


We know that anxiety often has a genetic component. Children as young as 4 months old will show signs of behavioral inhibitions (such as rapid heartbeat and fear of strangers), which is related to subsequent separation anxiety.

However, attachment anxiety may also stem from childhood or later life experiences. These may include overprotective parents, abuse or neglect. Attachment helps protect the survival of children.

The child will feel anxious and seek the comfort of his parents. If the child does not succeed in getting comfort from the attachment partner, there will be no sense of security, which means that fear, anxiety, and pain will continue to increase.

This may repeat itself in life in friendships and relationships where others cannot provide the desired comfort.


Attachment anxiety is not an official diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). Rather, it is usually considered a symptom that needs to be resolved on its own. Generally speaking, it is believed that about 50% of people have a secure attachment style, while the rest belong to various insecure styles.

However, Separation Anxiety Disorder is an attachment-related anxiety disorder that is usually diagnosed around 6 or 7 years old.

Children with separation anxiety disorder may refuse to go to school, be afraid of separation from their parents, have nightmares, and experience physical discomforts such as headaches or stomachaches.

Although most children will get rid of this problem when they grow up, it may continue into adolescence and adulthood.

Another related diagnosis is reactive attachment disorder. Children with this disease do not seek comfort or do not respond to it when they are in pain. They may also lack reactions to others, have limited positive influence, and be unexplainably irritable. This disease is caused by neglect in childhood.


Attachment anxiety has been shown to respond to various types of treatments, including:

  • Interpersonal Relationship Therapy (IPT): This therapy helps people learn how to improve their interpersonal relationships and social interactions. Working with a therapist, people identify problem areas in their relationship and then work to resolve deficiencies and develop new skills.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): This therapy focuses on helping people change the negative and automatic thinking patterns that cause anxiety in interpersonal relationships. By learning new ways of thinking, people can handle interpersonal relationships from a safer and less anxious perspective.
  • Medications: If a person has both attachment anxiety disorder and the diagnosed anxiety disorder, medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can also be prescribed.

A study found that IPT effectively reduced attachment anxiety, and the reduction in anxiety was also associated with a significant reduction in depressive symptoms.


Most people with attachment anxiety disorder use ineffective coping strategies to exacerbate their anxiety, such as checking their partners frequently. This method raises the level of attachment anxiety and often leads to tension in the relationship.

It is important to determine useful and healthy coping strategies, because having a safe attachment style will make you a more compassionate person.

If you have attachment anxiety strategies

If you find signs of anxious attachment in your behavior, you can take some steps to control these tendencies. Some strategies that can improve your happiness and relationships include:

  • Choose a partner with a safe attachment style and recognize whether your partner’s attachment style will cause your attachment anxiety
  • Decide to move forward and make new choices to support the life you want now, instead of focusing on how you were treated in the past
  • Find and work with experienced therapists to help people transform from insecure attachments to secure attachments.
  • Record your thoughts, feelings and reactions
  • Understand attachment anxiety so you can better understand the problem
  • Identify people who may trigger your attachment anxiety
  • If there are family problems that prevent you from moving forward and overcome attachment anxiety, try family therapy

Strategies if your partner is anxious

If you have a relationship with someone with attachment anxiety, there are steps you can take to help. Some strategies that can help your partner feel safer include:

  • Do not reduce their feelings and provide comfort
  • Help your partner better understand how their attachment anxiety affects your relationship
  • Consistently stick to your promises and promises
  • Show your concern and provide regular guarantees
  • Encourage your partner to seek help
  • Participate in couples therapy together

Very good sentence

Attachment anxiety can be stressful. It often makes it difficult to enjoy relationships because you are busy worrying about things that might go wrong. Working to develop a safer attachment style can help. Discuss with your partner what they can do to support you, and consider asking a therapist or counselor for help.

In general, this is a win-win situation that will lead to a more fulfilling life. You will no longer focus on being abandoned or unsupported. Instead, you will be able to focus on the positive aspects of your relationship.


Overview of Attachment Anxiety
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