What is Reactive Attachment Disorder & Its Common Causes


The article is developed in partnership with BetterHelp. In order for a child to healthily develop, a bond must be made between them and their caregiver. However, when that’s not present, serious concerns can appear. This article will discuss reactive attachment disorder and how to prevent and repair it.

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Defining Reactive Attachment Disorder

As mentioned, reactive attachment disorder, or RAD, is a mental health condition that stems from one’s childhood, specifically regarding how strong an emotional bond was between them and their primary caregivers, like their parents or other relatives.reactive attachment

When these bonds aren’t present, individuals can develop symptoms related to being emotionally detached, such as a lack of pleasure or joy. Avoiding physical contact, especially when it comes to affection. However, they may instead be prone to negative emotions like anger and sadness. They can react inappropriately to these feelings, like throwing tantrums and breaking things.

This article describes some of the usual causes of RAD in children and how these kinds of symptoms can manifest.

The Causes Of Reactive Attachment Disorder

The causes of RAD can be summarized by prolonged neglect and physical, emotional, and sexual abuse during childhood. RAD rates have been higher among adopted and foster kids, and this is not a coincidence.

reactive attachment disorder

Some of the most frequent causes of RAD include:

  1. Abandonment.
  2. Ignoring a child’s basic needs, such as food, hygiene, affection, and education.
  3. Exposing them to an unsafe living situation, such as domestic violence and substance abuse.

Some circumstances that can cause RAD aren’t always preventable, though. For example, a household that lives in extreme poverty with no experience raising a child can lead to the development of this condition.

While there isn’t a real standard protocol for treating RAD, people can find relief even as adults. Find out how below.

Resources For Reactive Attachment Disorder

Whether you’re caring for a child who has reactive attachment disorder or might be struggling with the condition yourself, it’s important to educate yourself as much as you can. Consult a mental health professional for support since it can cause adjacent issues like eating disorders, relationship troubles, frequent unemployment, and low self-esteem.


While those with RAD struggle to form emotional connections with people, events, and other aspects of their lives, counseling and therapy can show them how they can develop attachments to the people. They can also show them the things that are around them. They can cope with their feelings and emotions and react to them appropriately. Visit BetterHelp to read more about this disorder and other issues related to attachment and how you can reach out to someone as soon as possible if you need assistance.


Reactive attachment disorder can be a lifelong issue, but people can improve their quality of life with some key strategies. Ideally, prevention is crucial. Even those who don’t have bad intentions must understand how the environment they place their children in can significantly impact the development of their minds.

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