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What Is Abandonment Trauma?

Were you a child of divorce, left in foster care, or had parents who had time for everything in the world but you? If so, you might be suffering from a psychological disorder called abandonment trauma. Stemming from the fear of loneliness, abandonment trauma is a phobia that makes you believe that everyone you love will leave. While rejection, loss, and neglect are usually the causes of abandonment trauma, inconsistent attention and lack of emotional support and closeness with a loved one can lead to chronic stress, ADHDimpulsive behavior, and diminished memory.

In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about abandonment trauma.

Causes of Abandonment Trauma

Abandonment trauma can arise from various situations, both subtle and overt, that lead an individual to feel deserted, rejected, or neglected. Some common causes include:

  1. Loss of a Loved One: Death of a sibling, parent, or close family member.
  2. Parental Rejection or Neglect: Parents who constantly emotionally and physically neglect their child.
  3. A Child of the System: Children who are adopted or placed in foster care may struggle with feelings of abandonment stemming from their early experiences of separation from their birth families.
  4. Separation or Divorce: Parents separating or divorcing can create feelings of abandonment in children. Changes in living arrangements can be emotionally distressing.
  5. Emotional or Physical Abuse: Individuals who experience abuse, whether it’s emotional, physical, or sexual, can develop abandonment trauma as a result of feeling trapped in an unsafe environment without support.

Symptoms of Abandonment Trauma

A person suffering from abandonment trauma will show any of the following symptoms:

  • Fear of Abandonment – A fear of being left behind or rejected by those you love.
  • Difficulty trusting others.
  • Feeling unworthy and unlovable.
  • Isolating yourself to avoid the possibility of being rejected.
  • Self-sabotaging your own happiness or success.
  • Pushing people away.
  • Depression and anxiety.
  • Wanting to please people.
  • Finding it difficult to maintain relationships.

Living with Abandonment Trauma

Living with the constant fear that someone you love will leave you isn’t easy. It can lead to severe anxiety, which can destroy your quality of life and push people away. Fortunately, there are things that you can do to cope and heal from abandonment trauma:

  • Get Therapy: Psychotherapy, particularly approaches like Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Play Therapy, and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), can provide a safe space to explore and address abandonment issues.
  • Try to Foster Healthy Relationships: Learn the art of healthy communication and emotional regulation skills. Create healthy boundaries to build stable and fulfilling relationships.
  • Practice Mindfulness: Regular meditation can help you stay focused on the present, reducing anxiety.

Wrapping It Up

Abandonment trauma can impact an individual’s mental and emotional well-being, affecting their self-esteem and relationships. While overcoming abandonment trauma may seem impossible, with the right help and coping strategies, you can fight your fear and live the life you always dreamed of. The key here is to remind yourself that whatever happened will stay in the past, and you have the power to change your future and be in loving relationships. All you need to do is trust yourself.


National Library of Medicine. (2021). Child Attachment and ADHD: A Systematic Review. Retrieved from National Library of Medicine


National Library of Medicine. (2021). Associations of Early-Life Threat and Deprivation With Executive Functioning in Childhood and Adolescence: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Retrieved from National Library of Medicine


National Library of Medicine. (2012). Quality of Social Relationships and the Development of Depression in Parentally-Bereaved Youth. Retrieved from National Library of Medicine