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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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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Depression And Other Mental Health Issues
The consequences of chronic separation anxiety can lead to depression. The complications can be varied, depending on the people affected. A young individual with SAD may begin to exhibit some erratic behavior while at school. He might then become dependent on drugs and alcohol, followed by a more extreme case of depression.
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How Is Separation Anxiety Diagnosed In Adults
Only certified health experts are qualified to diagnose separation anxiety in adults. A health professional will evaluate your signs and symptoms based on the following DSM-5 criteria:
- Fear of losing family members or essential things
- Anxiety about losing someone, getting injured or sick, etc.
- The constant fear of facing destructive events such as losing loved ones, getting into a car accident, being kidnapped, etc. that could cause separation
- Refusal to leave the house for school or work
- Anxiety about being alone or without the attachment figures
- Refusing to sleep anywhere except at home or near the attachment figure
- Recurrent complaints of stomach aches, headaches, nausea, and vomiting
Experts warn that psychological disorders including depression may share symptoms with SAD. Hence the need for differential diagnosis. Some of the conditions that may be confused with SAD include:
How To Handle Separation Anxiety Disorder
Keep your goodbyes brief. Whenever you leave your kid, give her advance warning that a sitter will be arriving or that you’ll be dropping her off, and then keep your goodbye brief. “If you act anxious, or keep returning for another hug, she will think there is something to worry about,” says Vincent Barone, Ph.D., a child psychologist at Children’s Mercy Hospitals & Clinics, in Kansas City, Missouri. Try to convey that the time apart is temporary and is not a cause for alarm.
Develop a ritual for leaving. It can help to develop a very brief routine for the process. You might say, “Mommy will be back to get you after work. I love you.” Then hug your child and leave. By keeping farewells the same each time, you create a familiar transition from being with you to being without you.
Prepare an activity. Ask your sitter or daycare teacher to have an activity ready as soon as you turn your child over. Getting her engaged in a clapping game or a new toy will take her mind off the fact that you’re leaving, notes Elizabeth Pantley, author of The No-Cry Separation Anxiety Solution.
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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 Is The Difference Between Separation Anxiety Disorder In Children And In Adults
While anxiety disorders such as SAD cannot be prevented altogether, seeking treatment as soon as you notice that your child has a problem can reduce the severity of the problem and improve your childs quality of life. Some other tips include:
- Stay calm in front of your child, as she often looks to you for how to react in new and uncertain situations.
- Avoid providing an excessive amount of reassurance since this may signal more, not less, to worry about.
- Teach your child how to problem solve, cope, and reassure herself.
- Limit the avoidance of activities. Though avoidance may temporarily reduce distress, it will allow the anxiety to grow and make things more difficult for your child in the future.
- Provide support and praise for small victories in separation rather than consequences for the difficulties, since consequences tend to increase anxiety.
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What Is Relationship Separation Anxiety
In some cases, the separation anxiety may be severe enough to diagnose someone with separation anxiety disorder, which is “developmentally inappropriate and excessive fear or anxiety concerning separation from those to whom the individual is attached,” as outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders , a manual for assessment and diagnosis of mental disorders. However, not everyone who experiences separation anxiety in relationships will meet these criteria for diagnosis. Like with anything else, separation anxiety in a relationship can look different from couple to couple and person to person it isn’t linear and can be super extreme or relatively mild.
If you think you might have relationship separation anxiety, it doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with you or your relationship. Most people’s responses in relationships come from their childhood experiences, traumas, or unmet needs. Being aware and learning how to communicate about it is one of the most important first steps.
How To Spot It: What Does Separation Anxiety In Dogs Look Like
Separation anxiety truly is a panic disorder about being left alone, explains renowned dog SA expert Malena DeMartini.
This is way beyond not wanting to be aloneits extreme fear. Malena also thinks there is a genetic component to the disorder: There are several potential situations that can cause separation anxiety to pop up, however my personal belief is that the dog has a genetic predisposition for this disorder. So you may not ever see separation anxiety signs until you move to a new location, but then suddenly the dog is anxious about being left alone.Read more from Malena about how dogs develop SA.
When youre figuring out whether your pup has SA, consider that he or she might just be bored. While some of the effect can be the samedestruction, pee and poop in the house, etcthe cause is super different. Many dogs left loose in the house with nothing in particular to do find interesting ways to amuse themselves,says dog trainer Irith Bloom. Check out her tips for telling the difference.
If youre wondering if your dogs behavior is stemming from separation anxiety, ask yourself:
- Does your dog become agitated when youre getting ready to leave?
- Does your dog become depressed right before you leave?
- Does your dog block the doorway or otherwise interfere so you cant leave?
- Does your dog start barking or destructive behavior soon after you leave?
- Is your dog overly happy when you returneven if you were gone for as little as a few minutes?
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Where To Get Help For Anxiety
An appointment with a GP is a good place to start.
You can talk to the GP on your own or with your child, or your child might be able to have an appointment without you.
If the GP thinks your child could have an anxiety disorder, they may refer them for an assessment with your local children and young people’s mental health services .
Specialist CYPMHS are NHS mental health services that focus on the needs of children and young people. CYPMHS workers are trained to help young people with a wide range of problems, including anxiety.
If your child does not want to see a doctor, they may be able to get help directly from a local youth counselling service. For more information, visit Youth Access.
Characteristics Of Separation Anxiety
These are some of the characteristics of separation anxiety, according to Klemanski:
- It is typically recurrent: As a disorder, separation anxiety is typically recurrent and manifests as excessive distress when anticipating or experiencing separation. It can cause persistent and excessive worry about losing someone through harm, illness, injury, accident, abandonment, etc.
- It functions on a spectrum: Separation anxiety functions on a spectrum in the sense that some may have some mild symptoms of it whereas others might experience a great deal of anxiety and distress.
- It is more common in children: Separation anxiety disorder is more common in children, but adolescents and adults may also experience it when they are away from children, partners, or other family members. Mental healthcare providers typically look for signs that the anxiety is not in accordance with ones development. For example, they might expect a toddler to exhibit some signs of separation anxiety, but they would not expect to see many of these signs in an adolescent or older adult without good reason.
Separation anxiety most often affects those who exhibit insecure attachment style, says Hanson.
These are some of the causes of separation anxiety, according to Klemanski:
Understanding Separation Anxiety Disorder
SAD severity can range from relatively mild to severely impairing. In severe cases, SAD can lead to difficulty attending or performing well at work, and may inhibit the individual’s ability to travel independently. SAD may cause conflict and frustration for attachment figures, who may feel pressured to comply with the individual’s demands for constant closeness.
Do Things That Are Important To You While Youre Away From Your Partner
One of the top tips for handling separation anxiety from a partner is to take action. I cant stress enough how important it is to take advantage of this alone time. You have extra time available to you right now grab that bull by the horns!
So after youve had a good cry, its time to do something meaningful something that matters to you.
Set aside some hours to focus on a personal hobby of yours. Or tackle a challenge youve been meaning to attempt. This might not be something crazily ambitious, but you could read a novel youve been putting off for a while.
Or maybe you can do something that helps you feel close to your partner AND deal with the separation anxiety at the same time. A great example would be getting some family photos printed and placed in albums. You can choose your favorite photos of you and your partner and get creative putting them in photo albums or framing them in your home.
Youll be thinking of them while you expend creative energy. This activity will make you feel warm and fuzzy inside, plus give you a sense of accomplishment, which will definitely help to reduce some of your anxiety.
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When Do I Need To Worry
Although it may be difficult to hear a child cry, remember that separation anxiety does have a positive aspect: It indicates that a healthy attachment has bonded a caregiver and child.
You should still watch your child to see if her separation anxiety appears extreme, says Julia F. Heberle, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at Albright College in Reading, Pennsylvania. Dr. Heberle recommends analyzing the situation surrounding your child’s feelings. Is there parental conflict, divorce, or something wrong with the child-care setting? If so, the symptoms of separation anxiety may be amplified. If a toddler is showing excessive symptoms, such as vomiting or unrelenting worry, contact your pediatrician.
Why Does Separation Anxiety Disorder Occur
It is normal for young children to sometimes feel worried or upset when faced with routine separations from their parents or other important caregivers, and for older children and adolescents to experience mild anxiety when away from their families such as on school trips or when leaving home for the first time to attend college, university, or a job. Although less common, some adults also may have mild anxiety or fear when a boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse/parent goes away for a period of time such as on a vacation or business trip. This response is part of the fight-flight-freeze system designed to protect us from threat and danger, and in small doses is useful. However, we expect that as these situations unfold, continue, and repeat, that the individual gets used to these separations. As a result, s/he discovers there is no danger, and becomes less and less anxious and learns to cope successfully. Yet, for some adults their response to actual or anticipated separations becomes far more extreme than would be expected, and continues each and every time a separation happens. In essence, they fail to adapt and appear unable to cope. For these adults, it is possible that they may have separation anxiety disorder.
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