Reviewed by Whitney White, MS CMHC, NCC., LPC
What could cause thoughts such as "What is wrong with me?" " No one's calling me," " It seems my friends are too busy for me," "It seems I'm facing more problems than others," " Why am I not as happy as my friends?" and " People don't like something about me,” to run through your mind? These thoughts can be prompted by depression tied to a fear of abandonment.
Generally, depression is seen as a mental illness that can interfere with your normal daily life. It's characterized by a loss of interest in activities that you once enjoyed and the feeling of sadness. According to Mental Health America, depression is a common mental challenge affecting more than 16 million American adults (6.7%) every year.
- Feeling sad, anxious, or empty persistently
- Loss of pleasure or interest in activities or hobbies that you once enjoyed
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Aches or pains
- Difficulty concentrating, making decisions, or remembering
- Appetite changes
- Sleeping problems
- Irritability or restlessness
- Thoughts of death or suicide
Depression can be one of the implications of abandonment issues which may be the source of your mental health struggles. Abandonment issues can be one of the basic triggers of depression, anxiety, and mistrust. They can interfere with your day-to-day life, relationships and careers.
What Are Abandonment Issues?
Abandonment issues may develop from life experiences associated with feelings of loneliness and the inability to rely on loved ones for emotional or other forms of support. Being abandoned can result in trust issues and clinginess or commitment phobia. Abandonment issues can negatively affect your personal life and interpersonal relationships.
Typically, there are emotional abandonment and physical abandonment.
- Emotional abandonment: Here, you felt emotionally neglected, or you had to keep your feelings to yourself to feel accepted.
- Physical abandonment: Here, you experienced physical neglect, inadequate provision, lack of supervision, abuse (physically or sexually).
What are the Signs of Abandonment Issues?
The signs of abandonment issues can come in two ways— some may be evident, and some may be unnoticed because they are too subtle. The following are some of the major signs of abandonment issues that may indicate a warning in a relationship:
- Quickly moving on after a relationship
- Low self-esteem
- Quick and easy attachment
- Avoiding emotional intimacy
- Self-sacrificing to please your partner
- Criticizing your partner
- Staying in toxic relationships
- Sabotaging your relationship
- Jealousy and possessiveness
What are the Mental Implications of Abandonment Issues?
Being abandoned can have serious mental health implications, which can be referred to as secondary problems. These problems may be experienced with respect to situations. The following are some of the common ones:
- Low Self-Esteem: Low self-esteem can be a sign of abandonment issues.
- Depression and Mood Swings: Depression and mood swings are common emotional problems. When you're abandoned, you may experience feelings of despair and low mood. Abandonment issues can result in chronic depression, which may need proper care.
- Addictions: Abandonment issues can also lead to addictions. When you're abandoned, you may feel frustrated, leading you to rely on drugs and alcohol. These may provide tentative emotional assistance but have deteriorating consequences later.
- Sleeping Disorders: Being abandoned can lead to worry and tension, some of the basic anxiety characteristics. Anxiety is a condition that can cause sleeping disorders, which can negatively affect your physical well-being.
- Borderline Personality Disorders (BPD): Borderline personality disorder is a mental health disorder characterized by symptoms such as having chronic problems maintaining healthy relationships with other people, feelings of impulsivity, volatile moods, and extremely low self-worth. BPD commonly arises from abandonment issues.
- Social Anxiety: Social anxiety can be caused by lower self-esteem. The fear that other people may reject or abandon, you may make you feel anxious when you're around others and affect your social life.
What are the Causes of Abandonment Issues?
There are different reasons why you experience abandonment issues. The attachment styles you developed during your childhood have a lot to do with the abandonment issues you have in adulthood. The following are some of the factors that can cause abandonment issues:
- Rejection: If you experience rejection from those you love, it can result in abandonment issues, especially depression. Being rejected can make you feel that you're not worthy of being loved.
- Death of a Loved One: The death of someone you love can open you to abandonment issues such as anxiety and depression. Also, the thoughts you may lose a parent or any loved one can lead to such issues.
- Neglect: Most abandonment issues are developed from childhood. This occurs when you are not given proper care and affection. Consequently, this leads to low self-esteem and loneliness. Every child needs attention. When this attention is not given, it leads to abandonment issues.
- Divorce or Separation: You are predisposed to developing abandonment issues if you experience divorce as a child. This may make you lose trust in marriage, relationships, and institutions of family.
- Difficulty in Trusting Your Partner: If your partner has been unfaithful or dishonest, you may be fearful of abandonment in the relationship. This may cause you to seek ways to avoid this. Lack of trust and feeling suspicious may make your relationship unhealthy.
- Abused as A Child: If you're abused (physically and emotionally) as a child, you can be affected psychologically. Physical and emotional abuse can lead to low self-esteem and other issues.
- Abused by Your Ex: You may find it difficult to trust in your new relationship if you were abused emotionally or sexually by your ex-partner. Emotional or sexual abuse can contribute to your low self-esteem.
How To Manage Abandonment Depression
Depression as part of the issues arising in abandonment can be managed. The following are some of the steps to take to overcome it:
- Acknowledge Your Challenge: The first step to deal with your feeling is to identify it and know why and how it affects you. You must be conscious of the fact that you're being affected by depression. Know how the feeling is experienced — you may be feeling low, jealous, or insecure.
- Know Your Symptoms: Abandonment can affect you physically and emotionally. The effect can come in two different ways. The first one is that it may make you deeply in need of constant reassurance and attention. Here, you may attempt to occupy the space in your life (relationship) with anyone ready to give you attention.
The second one is that it can result in losing interest in everyone and everything — this may be from mistrust or fear of being rejected. To manage this, you may try not to be too emotionally connected with people close to you so that when they abandon you again, you won't feel deeply hurt.
Practice Mindfulness: Mindfulness is one of the common treatment options that may be included in your treatment program for mental health. Meditation and mindfulness can be used to control the way you feel, think, and act. If you're suffering from abandonment depression, mindfulness can help you get in touch with your emotions and relieve the levels of your worry and frustration. By teaching you how to sit you’re your thoughts and feelings without judgment.
- Make A Plan: One of the common symptoms of depression is low self-esteem. Low self-esteem makes you lose confidence in yourself and reduce your sense of achievement. So, to increase your confidence and sense of achievement, try to make an action plan. This plan may involve working on a specific task and marking it off the checklists when it's done. Getting a task done is an added advantage to your self-esteem.
- Do Something Productive:If you are going through serious issues of abandonment, you have a higher tendency to become frustrated, jealous, or insecure. Doing something productive will help reduce your levels of anxiety and frustration. You can get a new hobby, engage in a sporting activity (such as soccer or badminton), or join art and craft classes. Any of these will help reduce your loneliness and depression.
- Surround Yourself with Those You Can Trust: Don't start with the big part of your problems; start with the small ones. You must teach yourself how to trust people again. Trusting them again does not necessarily mean you need to start by exposing your deepest and darkest secrets to them. You start by sharing little information about your life. Information that can help strengthen your relationships with them. Later, you may tell them things that are more important to you.
Also, to help yourself effectively, you will need people you can trust. These may include your close friends and family members. You can rely on them for some important things. This may be difficult for someone who's suffering from abandonment issues, but with the help of counseling, you may begin to have trust in them again.
Also, try to make new friends and establish a cordial relationship with your old friends. This may help reduce the fear of abandonment.
- Get A Journal: Negative thoughts contribute immensely to abandonment depression. One of the ways to deal with this is to assess the positive aspect of your thoughts. Maintaining a journal of the positive part of your life, including your achievements, will help increase your self-worth level.
- Try to be Rational: Take time to consider how you’re feeling and where it comes from, whether it’s sourced from something factual in the moment or something from the past intruding on the present. If you discover that you've been overreacting in some situations, this self-reflection can help you change your unhealthy habits and to look for a better way to attend to issues.
- Open Up to Your Partner: After identifying your feelings, you should try to let your partner know about what you're going through. If worries about your partner is the source of the problem, opening up about this may be supportive for you. You may be able to enlist their help as you work through things.
- Talk to A Counselor: Sometimes self-help isn’t enough. Counselors (also called therapists) are licensed professionals with education and expertise that can help you face what you’re experiencing successfully.