Reactive Attachment Disorder in Adults - What can be done to help?
January 27, 2008 8:42 AM   Subscribe

Attachment Disorder in Adults - Are there any resources out there?

A woman I am corresponding with suffers from RAD and is now in a state of emotional breakdown, suffering from anxiety, depression and agrophobia among other symptoms. I'd like to help her get all the possible help she can, including important books to read, support groups online, available therapies that would work, blogs and anything else that could be pertinent to this condition including stories of recovery - if there are any. Any help in finding her these resources are greatly appreciated! Thanks.
posted by watercarrier to Health & Fitness (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
First priority - she needs a therapist and psychiatrist (one for talk and one for meds). I don't know where the diagnosis came from but she sounds like she is bad shape. Attachment disorder has deep seated roots in early childhood. She needs professional help to get stabilized first - I doubt that reading anything will help her when she is at this level of distress.
posted by metahawk at 11:20 AM on January 27, 2008

No personal experience poster, but saw this on googling. There seem to be quite a number of web resources.

However, I agree with metahawk , she appears to be suffering an acute episode which will need psychiatric work-up. Encourage her towards a professional?
posted by Wilder at 11:25 AM on January 27, 2008

Yes, and be careful about all the quackery that exists around RAD. How does she know she has it? Usually, people don't diagnose themselves with it and usually adults are not diagnosed with it unless they were diagnosed in childhood. Some people are diagnosed with it by parents who may or may not be correct.

Unless she was raised in an orphanage before age three, suffered multiple foster care placements/ multiple switches of primary caregivers or was otherwise profoundly abused and/or neglected, it's unlikely that this is what she has.

A book I co-wrote with a leading child trauma expert Bruce D. Perry, MD, PhD, The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog and Other Stories from a Child Psychiatrist's Notebook, explores the neurobiology of attachment and looks at what works for kids with attachment disorders and may be of interest.

A more likely diagnosis could be post-traumatic stress disorder related to childhood abuse or neglect: evidence-based treatments for this include cognitive behavioral therapy, EMDR (though the reason it works is not the reason claimed by its proponents, according to the research) and medications for symptoms.

Professional help definitely recommended: I always suggest seeing someone with an academic affiliation who studies the problem, as that way you will get care that at least tries to be based on what we know works, as opposed to trying to sell you something.
posted by Maias at 2:13 PM on January 27, 2008 [4 favorites]

Attachment is not generally seen as an adult disorder -- it's more of a catch-all syndrome that may manifest itself in other more specific syndromes. I would be skeptical of using it as anything other than a general place-holder until there is a more detailed diagnosis.
posted by dhartung at 12:43 AM on January 28, 2008

Thanks for all the responses. Just thought I'd fill in a bit more. The background she has was of being born to a mentally ill mother who left her alone for hours on end in isolation and then inconsistently with numerous caretakers who changed frequently - from birth up to the age 3. She was diagnosed with BPD and complex PTSD but since she doesn't formulate relationships aside from the one (tentative and sporadic) with me, she did the research and found that RAD is actually the dx that fits her. She has zero trust and faith in doctors at this point, and wants to deal with this on her own. She's now 49.

Thanks so much again. Will relate this to her.
posted by watercarrier at 9:52 AM on January 28, 2008

I've had a similar disorder that wrecked me for quite a few months. The first thing I did was saw my regular doctor for a therapist recommendation.

After I started seeing my therapist, everything just got better.
posted by Schuby at 9:52 AM on January 28, 2008

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