Separation Anxiety Disorder

What is separation anxiety disorder?

Separation anxiety disorder is a type of anxiety disorders that is characterized with overwhelming fear of being left alone by parents, significant other or some other person that is important to the individual suffering from this disorder.

It is misbelieved that only children suffer from Separation Anxiety (SAD). In fact statistics show that adults are afflicted by SAD more often than children. The reason why people think that children are more vulnerable to separation anxiety is that they don’t know the difference between Separation Anxiety and Separation Anxiety Disorder.

Separation Anxiety literally means fear of being left alone by caretaker. This represents a normal stage of development for perfectly healthy baby. Around the age of eight months baby develops fear of being separated from mother of other caretaker because it believes that mother will never come back.

This is because baby doesn’t have a concept of time and each separation, no matter how short is may be, is too long. Fear of being separated lasts for about a year and in most cases resolves without any problems. If however a child exhibits overwhelming separation fear at age of three or older than he or she should be examined by a health professional.

Symptoms of Separation Anxiety in Child

• Child is refusing to go to daycare or school. Children that suffer from Separation Anxiety often develop phobia from school or even going out without parents. They may also cry excessively, get angry or very aggressive. They may also become “stone” cold and ignore everyone and everything until parents come back.

• It is not unusual that children with SAD are angry with parents and express their anger in various ways once their parents come back. This is important for parents to know because they should never punish their children if they recognize that their child is trying to punish them for leaving him or her.

• Shadowing parents is very common for children suffering from separation anxiety disorder. This is because they are not able to tolerate any physical distance from their parents even if they know that parents are just in the next room.

• Refusing to sleep alone and demanding to sleep with parents is another common symptom of SAD. There is no reason for children not to sleep in warm, comfortable bed in their room while parent can finally have some time for themselves. It is a mistake in the first place to allow a child to sleep in his parents’ bed.

Symptoms of Separation Anxiety Disorder in Adults

• Experiencing distress when separated from the subject of attachment. Individuals with separation anxiety are almost in panic when they need to be separated from their loved one even if they know that they will reunite in couple of hours or days.

• Physical symptoms such as headaches, nausea, vomiting, stomachaches, heart problems when separation occurs, on in anticipation of separation. This is a mechanism whose purpose is to stop the subject of the attachment from leaving.

• Persistent worrying about losing the subject of attachment (parents, significant other, close friend, etc).

• Always in need of reassurance that loved one is okay.

There are many other symptoms of SAD and they are numbered and described in detail in another article. From these symptoms numbered above you can see that it may be very challenging and difficult to share life with someone that suffers from this disorder. Unfortunately marriages and relationships are broken apart due to the SAD.

Good news is that Separation Anxiety Disorder is treatable and it has very high cure rate. Cognitive-Behavioral therapy alone is very successful in treating SAD and in most cases no medication is needed.

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