Overcoming Abandonment Trauma with Treatment

Abandonment trauma is a common issue that can stem from traumatic events, adverse childhood events, and more. When someone threatens to leave or seems like they might, this can intensify abandonment fears. Maintaining healthy relationships becomes increasingly challenging the longer that this abandonment syndrome is left to its own devices.

The good news is that abandonment issues are quite common and can be treated with a comprehensive treatment plan through centers like Emerald Isle Health & Recovery. We can help you work through the cause of your abandonment trauma with robust plans and our team of experienced mental health professionals.

For more information on this topic and what types of treatment are found to be most effective, here is what you need to know.

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What is Abandonment Trauma?

Abandonment trauma occurs when someone who was very important to you may have abandoned you at a critical juncture in your life. It often means that you have an intense fear of abandonment moving forward, making it difficult for you to accept or form healthy relationships with the people in your life.

Sometimes, when you have experienced emotional abandonment, you will find it very difficult to get close to people. You might always imagine that they are moments away from leaving you. People often push others away before they have the opportunity to abandon them, leading to a vicious cycle.

Fear of abandonment makes you more likely to push people away which makes it more likely that someone will ultimately abandon you.

If this abandonment trauma occurs as the result of childhood trauma, you may find that you have co-occurring mental health conditions such as borderline personality disorder. It could even promote the development of post-traumatic stress disorder depending on the circumstances. Your mental health may need a bit of work before you can start to form new attachments to the people in your life.

What are the Signs of Abandonment Trauma?

Signs of Abandonment Trauma

Beyond the toll that it can take on your mental health, abandonment trauma often presents as a marked issue with close relationships. Every individual with this condition will be different. A mental health professional can help you identify patterns that are indicative of poor relationships and help you to form newer, healthier ones.

The first sign of abandonment trauma is that you might have a revolving door of relationships. People tend to come and go in your life quickly. You always want to leave the relationship before the person you love and care about has the opportunity to leave you. Unfortunately, this means that you often abandon a relationship prematurely when it may still be healthy and functional.

Another sign of abandonment trauma is the need for constant reassurance to quell any rising abandonment fears. You often have anxiety surrounding relationships. As a result, the people who are closest to you must cope with your ongoing abandonment anxiety. This can be very taxing for the people in your life, leading to strained and unhealthy relationships. This is where mental health services can come into play to teach others how to cope with your personal abandonment issues.

Last but not least, you may decide to stick it out in unhealthy relationships simply because you do not want to run the risk of losing someone. Many people with this mental health condition will stay in bad relationships where their emotional and physical needs are not being met because they cannot stomach the idea of losing someone. This can also be a component of trauma bonding.

What are the Causes of Abandonment Trauma?

While many people believe that abandonment trauma is rooted in childhood events, this is not always the case. Instead, these abandonment issues can strike at just about any age if the right traumatic event occurs to trigger feelings of fear and anxiety. Some of the most common causes of this condition are abusive relationships, divorce or separation issues, and even death.

In other words, you might have signs of abandonment trauma any time that a significant relationship is interrupted.

As a result, it can cause low self-esteem and lead to other issues like substance abuse or eating disorders as people try to grapple with their loss of control. Emotional needs must be met if you plan to cope with some of the side effects of far-reaching abandonment trauma.

How to Cope with Abandonment Trauma

Mental Health Therapy

The good news is that you will not be left on your own to cope with the effects of these traumatic experiences that have happened to you. Like many other mental health disorders, those rooted in trauma and abandonment can benefit from a multi-faceted approach to healing.

How Therapy Can Help Alleviate Abandonment Trauma

As you may have already guessed, abandonment trauma can benefit from the assistance of a licensed mental health professional like those found at Emerald Isle Health & Recovery. While it can be an intense experience, therapy is one of the best treatment options for people who have had this experience. It will require you to do a lot of heavy lifting and deep digging into your psyche, but it can have a profound effect on your mental health.

Therapy will start by taking a hard and objective look at your past. With your clinician, you will work through your physical or emotional abandonment, as well as how that plays out and impacts your current life. Digging up the past is often a painful experience for people, but it is necessary to move forward.

Leaning on the Support of a Mental Health Professional

From here, you and your therapist can see where your fear of abandonment comes from. Targeting your fear makes it easier for you to make a plan for how to handle it moving forward. When you start to feel the tension and fear in your body, believing that a loved one will abandon you soon, you can take action to overcome it.

Your therapist at Emerald Isle will help you to implement coping mechanisms that allow you to sit with the fear and discomfort. You will also learn how to take better care of yourself and how to handle it if someone does indeed abandon you again in the future. Coping with separation anxiety is a huge part of the therapeutic process.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Healthy Relationships

Under the umbrella of general mental health care services, you might benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy. This form of therapy is very specific and helps you to cope with the thoughts and feelings that come up when faced with the prospect of abandonment.

A skilled therapist who is experienced with CBT will start by looking at your feelings. You might feel that abandonment fear, which triggers certain thoughts for you. As you work through those thoughts, you will often find that you are taking the same actions again and again. That could mean that you push people away, cling to them, or otherwise sabotage your healthy relationships.

The goal of CBT is to alter your thoughts and feelings from some of these distortions. If you can do that, then you will find that your actions change, resulting in a much healthier outcome for your developing and already-established relationships.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Mindfulness

In addition to CBT, it might help you to implement some of the tools of dialectical behavior therapy. This type of therapy is designed for people who have intense emotional reactions such as those that come up surrounding abandonment fear.

While CBT looks at modifying your thoughts and feelings to improve your actions, DBT allows you to sit with the discomfort of your feelings and even tolerate traumatic stress more easily. You might practice helpful skills such as mindfulness which is the simple act of acknowledging your feelings without judgment. The goal is not necessarily to change or alter those feelings but just to accept them.

Learning that your thoughts and feelings are valid is the first of several steps toward accepting what has happened to you. Acceptance is a huge piece of the DBT approach. Once you can accept this, it will be much easier for you to learn how to meet your emotional needs.

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Implementing Self-Care for Your Mental Health

In addition to an intense therapeutic intervention, you may also need to think more deeply about your self-care. Knowing how to care for yourself is important so that you can better tolerate periods of intense discomfort or intense abandonment fears. You might feel the effects of psychological and physical trauma in the form of separation anxiety from loved ones, but you can combat this by focusing your attention inward.

How does self-care help with your mental health?

First and foremost, it makes you more attuned to your own needs. You will have a better idea of whether you need time alone, time with friends, or something else altogether. While some people may have self-care in the form of bubble baths and candles, others may need time in the fresh air or engage with a favorite hobby.

The idea here is that you cannot pour from an empty cup. If you are constantly overwhelmed by a fear of abandonment, then you will have a hard time forming healthy relationships with the people around you. Separation anxiety may not feel as overwhelming if you are focusing on your own needs and how you can meet them.

Family Therapy to Improve Adult Relationships

Family Therapy to Improve Adult Relationship

Childhood trauma is often the catalyst for people who have abandonment trauma, but that is not always the case. Even if your trauma took place as an adult, you can benefit from seeking out a form of family therapy to improve your adult relationships. Family is often fraught with difficult relationship conflict.

Get to the bottom of it with the help of a mental health professional who specializes in navigating these complex relationships. In this setting, you can share your concerns and fear of abandonment in a safe space. This lays the groundwork for healthy relationships to form, even if they have been tinged with trauma in the past.

Of course, family therapy does not necessarily have to mean that you engage with the nuclear family. It could also be more wide-reaching and include your closest friends or loved ones. The idea here is that it involves your family — chosen, biological, or otherwise close to your heart.

This will help you to improve your mental health conditions and relationships all in one fell swoop, though you may still need individual sessions to cope with your past.

Inpatient or Residential Care for Intense Treatment

If your relationships are really off the tracks and you need immediate and intensive help for your abandonment trauma, consider inpatient trauma treatment. This is particularly helpful for people who have other mental health disorders as well such as substance abuse issues, eating disorders, PTSD, or borderline personality disorder.

Inpatient care allows you to focus completely on your recovery without the fear of an unsafe environment or relationships. You will not have to worry about your safety, as some people with intense abandonment trauma are prone to self-destructive patterns of behavior. At Emerald Isle Health & Recovery, you can get the services that you need put in place quickly before transitioning to a lower level of care.

During residential treatment, you will participate in one-on-one therapy from a variety of disciplines, family therapy, and support groups with others who also have traumatic experiences.

Outpatient Care for More Flexible Treatment

Outpatient Care

You can get many of the same services during outpatient care. The benefit of outpatient care for your abandonment trauma is that it grants you more flexibility. You can come and go from Emerald Isle at will, as long as you are attending all of your appointments. We can help set you up with a therapist who administers both CBT and DBT, as well as a family therapist to help strengthen your closest relationships.

If you need a bit more structure than this, partial hospitalization may be the way to go. This allows you the structure of an inpatient setting during the day. You will receive treatment from the early morning hours until late in the afternoon, including individual and group therapies. However, you will still return home at night to sleep in your own bed.

Think carefully about what kind of structure you may need in place in order to take those first steps toward healing. There are no right or wrong answers here. One-size-fits-all solutions do not work for complex trauma issues like abandonment trauma and self-esteem issues, so be sure to talk with a professional about what suits you best.

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Start Your Healing at Emerald Isle Health & Recovery

If you need help with your recovery from abandonment trauma, you need the experienced team of professionals at Emerald Isle Health & Recovery. Whether it is caused by childhood trauma or something that happened later in life, we are equipped to help you. We have a robust offering of services ranging from individual therapy to family therapy to support groups.

Getting the help you need to form healthy relationships should not be a challenge. We aim to make it easily accessible to anyone and everyone. Do not let abandonment issues hold you back from forming strong relationships with the people in your life. Contact us today to learn how we can help!