How To Help A Teenager With A Separation Anxiety Disorder
If your teenager is willing to open up about his feelings about separation, pay attention to them and gain their trust. Provide them with ways to understand their anxiety triggers as well as situations that cause the most anxiety. It is essential to show them that you care and support them. By recognizing their problems, they may be able to reduce the intensity of their symptoms and worries.
Assure them that the symptoms of their condition are treatable. Teenagers do not often disclose their weaknesses give them time to work on coping mechanisms independently. If the teenager has trouble coping with social activities and gatherings, the best course is to seek professional help. A specialist can provide various options for coping with their symptoms and devise the best treatment plan for their conditions.
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What Are The Clinical Observations In Separation Anxiety
As noted byVijaya Manicavasagar and Derrick Silove, the earliest clinical observations of separation anxiety in adults were:
- People anxiously attached to their romantic partners, parents, and children showed the most severe symptoms.
- Worrying about family members, safety concerns, and health concerns.
- Being constantly concerned about the health and safety of the person they are attached to.
- In all the above cases, the individuals demonstrated immense fear beyond the ability to calm down when assured.
- The anxiety and fear interfered with their daily activities and distracted them.
- At an initial stage of their discomfort, these adults tried self-constructed coping mechanisms to suppress their symptoms, including humor, rationalization, and normalization.
- No matter, their SAD-driven maladaptive behaviors, and fears would soon get out of control and become apparent to everyone.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Adult Separation Anxiety
The symptoms listed above that are often studied extensively in children are also commonly seen in adults with separation anxiety. Many times adults may label these feelings as mere generalized anxiety rather than being able to pinpoint them as being related to separation anxiety.
Some of the symptoms common in adults with separation anxiety include:
- Extreme fear or anxiety when asked to do things alone or be separated from their attachment figure
- Avoidance of being alone in any circumstance
- Fear that the one they are most attached to will leave them or be harmed in some way
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Whats It Like Living With An Adult That Suffers
Being the loved one of someone with adult separation anxiety disorder can be just as exhausting as being the individual with the disorder. There is a constant demand for your attention that cannot be calmed or satisfied and often times it will feel as though there is no escape. Even the shortest respite from the clinginess of a loved one with ASAD will be interrupted by vies for your attention through text messages and phone calls.
Unfortunately, living with and loving someone with adult separation anxiety can be so taxing that relationships soon begin to break down. It is important for every relationship in which one or both persons have a diagnosis of ASAD that each person have their own support system.
Support systems should always include a licensed professional who is able to work with the individual with ASAD to develop coping tools to reduce their burden upon their loved one. It is also important for each person in the relationship to have their own support system of family and friends.
What Are The Symptoms Of Separation Anxiety
According to the American Psychiatric Associations Diagnostic Statistical Manual , the following are symptoms of separation anxiety
- Unusual distress about being separated from a person or pet
- Excessive worry that another person will be harmed if they leave them alone
- Heightened fear of being alone
- Physical symptoms when they know they will be separated from another person soon
- Excessive worry surrounding being alone
- Needing to know where a spouse or loved one is at all times.
These symptoms can cause significant distress that impacts their social occupational, or academic functioning.
According to the DSM-V, adult separation anxiety is diagnosable if the symptoms have been present for at least 6 months, the symptoms are so severe that they affect your social functioning and ability to take care of responsibilities, and if symptoms cannot be better explained by a different disorder.
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How Separation Anxiety Impacts Adult Relationships
It is not easy having separation anxiety in relationships.
To be the loved one of someone battling with the disorder can be just as stressful as having the disorder yourself.
Your attention is in constant demand, and it may feel like you can never calm or satisfy the fears of your significant other.
There may be times you feel trapped by the same insecurities and fears that have your loved one feeling like there is no escape. Unfortunately, loving or living with adult separation anxiety can become so taxing that the relationship can quickly crumble under stress.
What to do?
- It is vitally crucial to the stability of every relationship in which one or both persons have adult separation anxiety. Each person has their support system separate from one another.
- It is highly recommended that these support systems include a licensed professional that can help both partners develop coping tools to reduce the burden of ASAD on themselves and each other.
The support of friends and family is also essential to feel connected, social and supported within their romantic relationships.
When Does Separation Anxiety Disorder Begin To Show In Adults
Current studies have found that specific age ranges seem to be more prevalent for the onset of adult separation anxiety disorder. Adults that experience this disorder are most often between the ages of thirty and forty-four. The second most common age group for diagnosis of adult separation anxiety disorder is adults between the ages of eighteen and twenty-nine.
Adults aged forty-five to fifty-nine years old are less likely than their younger peers to experience this debilitating disorder. Finally, diagnosis of adult separation anxiety disorder in adults aged sixty and over is relatively uncommon in comparison to other adult age groups.
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Treatment Options For Separation Anxiety In Adults
While typically associated with childhood disorders, incidents of separation anxiety in adults have increased considerably over the past decade. In spite of the considerable age difference between the two groups, both forms of this condition bring about the same types of symptoms.
According to the U. S. National Library of Medicine, adults affected by separation anxiety may experience feelings of fear and even panic when separated from any major attachment figure in their lives. Major attachment figures may take the form of:
As far as degree of dysfunction goes, separation anxiety exists as a normal phase in childhood development , whereas separation anxiety in adults qualifies as a full-blown anxiety disorder.
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Yes Adults Can Have Separation Anxiety Too
What do you think of when you hear separation anxiety? You probably think of a young child whos going off to preschool for the first time. Its common for young children to show signs of fear when separated from their parents for the first time.
It makes sense. Children rely solely on their parents for all essential care for the first few years of life without parents or caregivers, bad things could happen. So when there are any signs of separation, its natural for kids to be upset until they learn that its okay to be apart.
Did you know that adults can also suffer from separation anxiety? A lot of people have a preconceived notion that it is solely a childhood disorder, but thats not true. According to a study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, 6.6% of adults in the U.S. suffer from Adult Separation Anxiety Disorder .
The signs can manifest in childhood first and persist into adulthood, however, a majority of cases of ASAD start at the onset of adulthood. The childhood variety is more common in women, while men tend to develop it more in adulthood.
Signs and symptoms vary amongst children and adults. General symptoms can include avoidance of being alone, distress over an attachment figure leaving or worrying that something bad may happen such as a sudden death. In children, this can look like fear and refusal of going to school or fear of being left home alone.
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Does My Child Have Separation Anxiety How Parents Can Help With Childrens Back
Going back-to-school is an exciting time for many children. But for some it also stirs up stress and anxiety. Are they going to like their new teacher? Are they going to enjoy their new school? Are their friends going to be in their class?
In everyday language, its common for people to talk about children experiencing separation anxiety.
When children experience more intense fears and anxieties that interfere with going to school over a prolonged period of time, or that interfere with how they function at school and/or how they interact with others, this is what psychologists call . is the most common anxiety disorder in children under 12 years of age.
Even when children are experiencing typical levels of anxiety whether they are starting kindergarten, transitioning to a new school or returning to more familiar surroundings, how parents respond is important.
A student waves to her parents as she enters the Bancroft Elementary School as students go back to school in Montréal last August.
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Diagnosing Adult Separation Anxiety Disorder
A diagnosis of adult separation anxiety disorder can be difficult to make since it is a relatively new category of anxiety disorder. For the purpose of diagnosing this disorder in adults, mental health professionals turn to The Diagnostic and StatisticalManual utilized by the mental health community does not currently have a specific set of criteria for the adult version of separation anxiety disorder and as a result they turn to the diagnosis criteria for separation anxiety disorder instead.
The diagnostic criteria for separation anxiety disorder as per the Diagnostic and Statistical manual IV TR is as follows:
A. Developmentally inappropriate and excessive anxiety concerning separation from home or from those to whom the individual is attached, as evidenced by three of the following:
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How Separation Anxiety Manifests In Adults
- Extreme Jealousy – adults with separation anxiety may demonstrate signs of jealousy in relationships. A fear of abandonment is often what drives those with ASA to experience jealousy. This is especially true if the jealousy is accompanied by anxious thoughts, such as a fear of being alone or irrational concerns about infidelity. Of course, jealousy may be completely unrelated to ASA – for example, control of others is the cause of jealousy, as are trust issues – but some forms of deep jealousy may also be due to separation anxiety.
- Over Strict Parenting – there is some evidence that extremely strict and demanding parents may have separation anxiety issues as well. Sometimes referred to as reverse-separation anxiety, the parents may be so concerned that their child will leave them someday that they try to control the child’s life as much as possible.
- Stuck in Relationships – another way separation anxiety may manifest itself is in the way adults treat their relationships. Whether romantic, familial, or friend relationships, but also friendships and occasionally familial relationships, many with ASA work to maintain the relationship even when extremely unhealthy , out of fear of being alone.
- Mooching – those that “mooch” off their parents well into adulthood, or those that never seem to leave their friends’ homes may be experiencing separation anxiety in some way.
What Are The Symptoms Of Separation Anxiety In Children
Before taking a look at the symptoms of separation anxiety in adults, let us first look at the symptoms that appear in the more commonly studied manifestation of this disorder children.
Children with separation anxiety may exhibit any of the following symptoms:
- Extreme distress when separated from their primary caregiver
- Reluctance to do anything that involves being apart from their primary caregiver
- Constant worry that something will happen to their primary caregiver
- Inability to go to sleep without the figure of attachment close by
- Physical complaints that would result in the child not having to separate from their primary caregiver
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Addressing Separation Anxiety In Children