Reactive Attachment Disorder

DSM-5: Reactive Attachment Disorder

By: Cassie Sieradzky

According to the DSM-5, reactive attachment disorder can be diagnosed in children who are at least 9 months old and have been experiencing symptoms before the age of 5.

The disorder is characterized by a consistent pattern of inhibited, emotionally withdrawn behavior toward adult caregivers. For example, the child rarely seeks comfort when distressed and rarely responds to comfort when distressed. A child with reactive attachment disorder displays a persistent social or emotional disturbance that can result in minimal social and emotional responsiveness to others, limited positive affect, or episodes of unexplained irritability, sadness, or fearfulness inappropriate to the situation at hand.

Reactive attachment disorder is believed to be caused by a pattern of insufficient care. The child may have experienced social neglect or deprivation by caregivers, repeated changes of primary caregivers that limited opportunities to form stable attachments (frequent changes in foster care), or was raised in an unusual setting that severely limited opportunities to form selective attachments (institutions with high child to caregiver ratios).

If your child or someone you know is exhibiting symptoms for reactive attachment disorder, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can assist you. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively at (201)-368-3700 or (212)-722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, visit

CEBC. (n.d). Retrieved March 13, 2018, from

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