When you and your partner fight, do your feelings toward them go from hot to cold? Do you act like the stereotypical “helicopter parent,” getting overly involved in every aspect of your child’s life to the point that it strains your relationship?
If so, the driving forces behind your behaviors may lie in how you relate to others. Your attachment style doesn’t stop at relationships, though — it can also impact your mental and physical health.
What Are the Four Attachment Styles?
There are four primary attachment styles. You can take an online quiz to discover where you fall:
- Secure: Folks with this style form the most positive bonds when others. While they appreciate love and friendship, they recognize that everyone leads separate lives. They make like the old song says and hang on loosely without letting go.
- Preoccupied: Those who fall into this category have an intense fear of abandonment. Because these folks will do anything to avoid rejection and loneliness, they often cling too tightly to those they love.
- Dismissive: When this sort hears “no one is an island,” they think, “yeah, right.” Those who fall into this classification guard their alone-time and privacy.
- Disorganized: May folks who fit this style suffered trauma in childhood or later in life. They want to have relationships, but they fear getting too close.
While most people learn their style in childhood, your past does not have to dictate your future relationships with others. After you understand more about how your style affects your health, you might seek therapy, which can help.
Eight Ways Your Attachment Style Impacts Your Health
How does your attachment style affect your mental and physical health? Here are eight ways.
1. It Has Its Roots in Our Core
Although you can alter your attachment style, the one you display today stems from incidents in childhood. You may have been so young that you don’t remember specific events that influenced you.
As such, you might assume it’s something you can’t change, and that false belief might drive you into depression. You might think, “I can never learn to trust again — what’s the point of relationships?” Start reaching out to the uplifting influencers in your life anyway. A positive social circle helps heal past wounds, as does therapy.
2. It Affects Our Closest Relationships
Your relationships with your spouse, kids and other close friends and family significantly influence your mental health. Numerous people seek therapy after a divorce, for example, but addressing your attachment style might prevent the split.
You could pass on anxiety to your kids. While research suggests a hereditary link, genes only explain 30 to 40 percent of the variability. The rest comes from upbringing. If you have a preoccupied attachment style, your excess worrying could provide the impetus to make your child more fearful.
3. It Influences Our Parenting Style
Psychologists recognize three basic parenting styles, and your attachment may influence your pattern:
- Permissive parents: These folks might go beyond sparing the rod and spoiling the child to letting kids do nearly anything they want. Those with a dismissive or disorganized attachment style might become this type of parent.
- Authoritative parents: These moms and dads run a tight ship and supervise nearly every aspect of their child’s lives. They may emphasize obedience over emotion, and those with either preoccupied or disorganized attachment styles may fit this profile.
- Authoritative parents: These people follow the ideal parenting pattern of blending caring with discipline. Those with secure attachment files often fit this profile.
4 It Strains Our Cardiovascular Systems
Excess stress created by disorganized or preoccupied attachment styles doesn’t only spur habits like overeating or alcohol abuse. It can rewire the circuits in your brain to keep your blood pressure high, placing considerable strain on your heart.
5 It Influences Our Weight
Dismissive, disorganized and preoccupied attachment styles can lead to family contact. This tension amps up your production of cortisol. While this stress hormone suppresses appetite in the short term, when the drama never relents, your body craves more food to prepare for ongoing battle. Worse, you tend to choose empty calories.
6. It Can Lead to Feelings of Loneliness
Any attachment style can fall prey to loneliness, but those who are disorganized may suffer most. People with this profile might desperately want to build a secure connection with others but lack social skills. Isolation can exacerbate multiple health problems, but therapy can help you learn ways to bond.
It Can Create Unnecessary Stress
According to the American Psychological Association, chronic stress is linked to the six leading causes of death. 75% of doctor visits stem from the condition. While seeking help costs money, it’s less pricey than open-heart surgery.
7. It May Worsen Chronic Pain
Your hormones signal your body to increase or decrease inflammation. For those with conditions like Crohn’s or rheumatoid arthritis, imbalances can lead to painful flares. Improving your emotional state by bettering your attachment style could lead to less frequent downtime.
8. It Can Exacerbate Anxiety and Depression
Finally, preoccupied, dismissive or disorganized attachment styles can directly or indirectly lead to anxiety and depression. For example, someone with a dismissive profile might lose their job for making too many mistakes and thinking, “no one cares anyway, so what’s the big deal.” When financial hardship occurs, they could sink into despair without a support system.
Someone with a preoccupied attachment style could fly into a panic if their kids aren’t home the second they see streetlights glow. Over time, these ingrained overreactions can balloon into an anxiety disorder.
Those with disorganized patterns often have past trauma. When they can’t form positive relationships in the present, they lack the social support they need to process their emotions and move forward.
Our Attachment Styles Impact Our Mental and Physical Health
Your attachment style impacts your mental and physical health. You owe it to yourself to discover your pattern and take meaningful steps to make it more secure.