The Roots of Anxiety, Depression, or Relationship Challenges


Playful couple enjoying outdoors

Over the years, I have had many clients come into my office with a long-term history of depression and/or anxiety, and often with little or no idea as to its causes. Often they report they have been told their symptoms are due to a “chemical imbalance,” yet they have not been able to adequately manage their symptoms with medication alone.

Brain research has taught us that, indeed there is an undeniable relationship between our neurochemistry and our moods. Yet it is also undeniable that simply addressing the neurochemistry itself (i.e. pharmaceutically) is often woefully inadequate.

Thankfully, recent events have also revived and expanded old research on human attachment. Based on the research of John Bowlby and others, Attachment Theory postulates first, that we have a deep emotional need to be connected with others; and second, that the types of bonds we form in childhood (particularly with primary caregivers ), will continue to shape the way we respond (both emotionally and interpersonally) to ourselves and others later in life.

In support of attachment theory (which may just seem like common sense to many of us), we know that later emotional, impulse control, and relationship difficulties correlate highly with identifiable attachment insecurities in childhood.

I have yet to work with a client who had a long-term history of emotional dysregulation but did not also have significant attachment challenges. This is true because we each develop subconscious, emotional-level beliefs based on these previous experiences. When we do not know what these beliefs are and how they are affecting us, they can wreak great havoc. Even recognizing the fallout, we are unable to find lasting solutions.

Gratefully, identification and resolution of these attachment deficits can produce enormous emotional and relationship improvements. This is especially true when the individual can actively use even a limited faith in a loving God as a secure attachment base.

Isn’t it wonderful to know that we are not limited to merely managing symptoms?

For more specific, easy-to-understand information on ways attachment may affect you or your loved ones, and some solid starters on how to resolve it, I highly recommend Reinventing Your Life, by Jeffrey Young and Janet Klosko.

Warmest Regards,

Dave

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