Teen Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder (DSED)

Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder (DSED) is a serious childhood attachment disorder that creates difficulties for children in building healthy relationships with adults. This disorder may develop when a child does not get proper care and healthy affection from his/her parents. This disorder is mostly seen in those teens that have spent their childhood in orphanages or other unhealthy environments.

Today, teens who struggle to build relationships with adult caregivers or parents are diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). Originally seen as a subtype of RAD, Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder (DSED) is now an independent attachment disorder that consists of “a pattern of behavior in which a child/teen actively approaches and interacts with unfamiliar adults.

Causes of Teen DSED

The attachment disorder generally occurs due to unstable environments as a baby or young child. Babies between six months to two years who stay in orphanages after the loss of their birth parents or have spent time in various foster care environments are generally sufferers of DSED. Additionally, children who live with continuous social and emotional negligence or who experience violent, abusive, and/or traumatic environments, including parental fighting or unrest are at risk of developing DSED.

The most common factors include:

  • A lack of warmth or shared encouragement with adult caregivers early in life
  • Frequent variations in primary caregivers
  • Living in a state where the teen to caregiver ratio is higher than normal. For example, children in orphanages

Symptoms of Teen DSED

The primary feature of DSED is a teen’s pattern of behavior that includes socially improper reactions. For example, they may behave abnormally with strangers, and are not at all cautious of a new person.

Some specific symptoms are:

  • Not shy when meeting new people
  • Not afraid of strangers
  • Overly friendly and intimate even with strangers
  • Enjoy going out or sharing secrets with strangers and unknown adults instead of their primary caregiver or parents
  • May behave rudely to or ignore their primary caregiver or parents

Treatment at Hillcrest

DSED is a treatable attachment disorder and it usually reduces as teens mature and grow up. It is important to provide the teen with a healthy, safe environment to allow them to trust the adults around them and begin to build healthy relationships that flourish. It is also important that their current primary caregiver and/or parent(s) are involved in this healing and treatment process. Treatment generally focuses on building healthy dynamics between the teen and his/her primary caregiver/parent(s). It usually involves a course of psychotherapy and family sessions.

Hillcrest is well-equipped to treat DSED at its state of the art residential rehabilitation facility. Using a range of therapeutic and innovative treatment methods, such as play and art therapies, your loved one will be exposed to a caring environment and with the help of dedicated and professional staff, your teen will be encouraged to develop healthy and appropriate bonding in adult relationships to sustain balanced and long term healing.

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