What is anxious attachment and how can it be addressed?
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Interpersonal connections are a fundamental part of the human experience. When you are dealing with anxiety symptoms, you might find it more challenging to navigate these connections. Stress and intense fear of failure can put a strain on your relationships. Even close relationships with people like friends and family may feel challenging to manage. We all have different ways of navigating relationships with other people. Your relationship with another person will depend on a lot of factors including your personality and theirs. In the 1930s, a new theory started to develop called attachment theory. This theory focuses on patterns of behavior and how people form attachments to each other. Theorists have found four main attachment styles. These are secure attachment, anxious-preoccupied, dismissive-avoidant, and fearful-avoidant. If you are struggling with anxiety or other mental health disorders, you may have an anxious attachment style. To address the potential negative impact of this attachment style, it is important to understand exactly what it is.

Defining anxious attachment

To learn about an attachment style, it can help to start with the basics. Anxious attachment is a way that people relate to others. While the signs of this can manifest in connections with people like your friends and classmates, it is especially significant in close relationships. But how do you know if you have this kind of attachment? Looking out for certain signs can be a good way to tell. Do you feel like you want to be really close to someone and you worry a lot about them leaving you? This feeling is a key feature of anxious attachment. People with this attachment style tend to feel highly dependent on other people. It can be partially rooted in a difficulty trusting others, which can lead to an intense need for validation. Here are some other common signs to look for:


  • Low self-esteem — Grappling with self-worth is a symptom of many different mental health disorders. Depression, which can coincide with anxiety, is one mood disorder that can lower your self esteem. When you have a poor view of yourself, it can make you feel inadequate when spending time with others. You might feel you are not worthy of friends, or that you don’t live up to your parents’ expectations. These feelings can unintentionally strain relationships.

  • Sacrificing for others — Healthy relationships can have some give and take. However, sacrificing for other people to the point that it hurts you can be a problem. Having an anxious attachment style can keep you from addressing your own needs. In the long run, this can have a negative effect on you and the people who care about you.

  • Emotional turbulence — Having an anxious attachment style can feel like a roller coaster ride full of ups and downs. When everything is stable, you might feel happy and excited. However, relationships can change. People with anxiety may have a hard time adjusting to these changes. A small hiccup could lead to intense worry and stress.

How process-based therapy can help

Process-based therapy (PBT) is a research-driven clinical model for treatment. This approach can be effective for treating a wide range of mental health concerns including anxiety and depression. This is because it integrates the strengths of other models to form one comprehensive approach. With PBT, compassion is a focus. Compassion from your licensed clinical therapist can be crucial as you develop the ability to self-soothe and reduce feelings of shame. Self-acceptance can make a huge impact on the way you relate to others, molding your style of attachment. PBT can also apply relational interventions meant to increase your awareness of relationship patterns. It can be hard to make an accurate assessment of your relationships when you are in them. Having outside guidance can help you see patterns in your attachment style. This can help improve your relationships and overall mental well-being.

Process-based therapy from Lightfully can help address your anxious attachment style

Do you think you might have an anxious attachment style? Lightfully Behavioral Health can help you identify and address the signs of this attachment style. We offer several different levels of care so you can receive specialized treatment that matches your needs. Anxious attachment might feel like a challenge, but you have the power to make a positive change. Our licensed clinical experts are eager to help you manage your anxiety and embrace yourself.

Change is possible. When you’re ready to take the first step, reach out to our Admissions Concierge Team. We’ll take the next steps together, toward the fullest, brightest version of you.

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