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Attachment and Psychopathology: Relationship between Adult Attachment and Depression, Panic Disorder, and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Nebi Sümer, Süheyla Ünal, Emre Selçuk, Burhanettin Kaya, Ruhcan Polat, Bülent Çekem
2009; 24(63):38-45

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The objective of this study was to investigate the relationship between adult attachment dimensions and different types of psychopathologies. One hundred and four individuals who were diagnosed with depression, obsessive- compulsive disorder, or panic disorder; and 77 individuals who were not diagnosed with a psychopathology (i.e., control group) participated in the study. Participants completed self-report measures of adult attachment. All three disorder groups reported higher attachment anxiety as compared to the control group. Moreover, patients diagnosed with depression reported higher avoidant attachment as compared to the other disorder groups. A discriminant function analysis was conducted to test if adult attachment dimensions discriminate among different disorder groups and the control group. First function, which was defined by attachment anxiety, discriminated the control group from the three psychopathology groups and the second function, which was defined by attachment avoidance, discriminated the depression group from the other groups. These findings indicate that high attachment anxiety and avoidance emerge as risk factors to develop psychopathology. Possible mechanisms mediating the link between adult attachment and psychopathology are discussed in light of findings of the current study and cultural factors.

Keywords: Attachment anxiety, avoidance, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder