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How To Tell If You Have Separation Anxiety

What Are The Risk Factors For Getting Separation Anxiety Disorder As An Adult

What does Separation Anxiety look like in your cat and how can you help?

Adults may experience separation anxiety due to stressful life events or past experiences. Risk factors include:

  • Loss of a loved one.
  • Big life changes, such as a move.
  • Strict parental upbringing.
  • Diagnosis of an anxiety disorder as a child.
  • Diagnosis of other anxiety or mental health disorders as an adult.

How To Handle Separation Anxiety

Remember, it’s only natural for your baby to feel anxious without you, so there’s no reason to feel guilty when you need to get on with other parts of your life. In fact, separation anxiety is usually a sign of how well you have bonded with them.

Instead, you can focus on helping your baby understand and deal with their feelings so they feel more secure. They’ll learn that if you leave them, they will be OK and you will come back. If your baby’s old enough, you can talk to them about what’s happening, where you’re going and when you’ll be with them again.

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.

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Enhancing Healthcare Team Outcomes

Pediatric providers are the most likely primary care providers to diagnose and initiate treatment for children with SAD. This is in part due to multiple studies showing that patients with anxiety disorders tend to have more frequent medical visits and increased rates of healthcare utilization, especially for comorbid medical conditionals or somatic complaints. Due to the somatic complaints that patients with SAD may experience, especially children, anxious patients may be overrepresented in specialty clinics, including cardiology, gastroenterology, and pulmonology. Several studies have suggested that nearly 1 in 4 adult patients and nearly half of non-acute pediatric patients who present for the emergency department meet the criteria for an anxiety disorder.

Barriers to appropriate diagnosis and treatment of patients with SAD include time constraints, unfamiliarity with diagnosing and managing anxiety disorders, concerns of stigmatizing patients, and reluctance in speaking with parents or adult patients about possible mental illness. In order to overcome these barriers, there have been increased efforts in developing collaborative care models for training pediatricians to identify and refer children with anxiety disorders to psychiatric professionals in-clinic or by telehealth means.

Dont Draw Out The Farewells

How To Know If Your Child Has Separation Anxiety

This is a common mistake that many Jack Russell owners make. Do not cuddle or snuggle your dog when you are ready to go out.

Jack Russells are intelligent dog breeds, and they can pick emotional changes of their owners quickly.

So, when you cuddle your dog before you leave, it may feel more lonely as soon as you leave. Instead, give him a treat and get him inside the crate.

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Some Of The Ways To Minimize Separation Anxiety In Cats Are As Follows:

  • Leave the radio or TV on a station that is often on when youre there
  • Keep arrivals and departures low key
  • Create a nook, safe haven, or refuge for your cat that is their safe space
  • Provide plenty of toys and/or puzzles for playtime while you are gone
  • Channel prey instincts by hiding food in toys that make them work for it
  • Start with shorter absences first
  • Provide a perch or catio so that your cat can see their favorite views
  • Consider a room diffuser or pheromones to provide a calming scent for your cat
  • Remove departure cues put your keys in your pocket a few minutes before leaving)
  • Provide plenty of cuddles and playtime once home
  • For more serious cases, consider having a sitter coming for 1-2 play sessions during absences

We cannot emphasize enough the importance of checking with your veterinarian when you see any change in your cats behavior before you chalk it up to separation anxiety, as early treatment of illnesses is crucial to cat wellness. For example, some cats go outside the litter box when they have urinary tract infections.

In extreme cases, medication may be an option, but your vet will usually leave that as a final alternative. As the ASPCA notes: “Sometimes for cats, veterinarians will advise using pheromones or calming treats before prescribing medication. Always consult with your veterinarian or a veterinary behaviorist before giving your dog or cat any type of medication or supplement for a behavior problem.”

How To Ease Normal Separation Anxiety

For children with normal separation anxiety, there are steps you can take to make the process of separation anxiety easier.

Practice separation. Leave your child with a caregiver for brief periods and short distances at first. As your child gets used to separation, you can gradually leave for longer and travel further.

Schedule separations after naps or feedings. Babies are more susceptible to separation anxiety when theyre tired or hungry.

Develop a quick goodbye ritual. Rituals are reassuring and can be as simple as a special wave through the window or a goodbye kiss. Keep things quick, though, so you can:

Leave without fanfare. Tell your child you are leaving and that you will return, then godont stall or make it a bigger deal than it is.

Follow through on promises. For your child to develop the confidence that they can handle separation, its important you return at the time you promised.

Keep familiar surroundings when possible and make new surroundings familiar. Have the sitter come to your house. When your child is away from home, encourage them to bring a familiar object.

Have a consistent primary caregiver. If you hire a caregiver, try to keep them on the job long term to avoid inconsistency in your childs life.

Minimize scary television. Your child is less likely to be fearful if the shows you watch are not frightening.

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What Exactly Is Separation Anxiety

“Between six months and three years old, some nervousness when you’re apart from loved ones is natural, and it actually shows good emotional and social attachment of the child to caregivers and other important adult figures,” Judy Ho, PhD, a clinical and forensic psychologist based in California, told Health. “But if those behaviors continue into late childhood and even adulthood, they can be classified as an anxiety disorder.”

The key here is that those feelings are excessive and developmentally inappropriate.¹

Having A Dog With Separation Anxiety Can Be Extremely Difficult But We Can Help

Does your cat have separation anxiety and how you can help

I know exactly how isolating it can be to have a dog with separation anxiety. My rescue puppy was so severe that I couldnt even shower without her having a complete melt down. I felt horrible that she was so distressed! Separation anxiety is a fear-based panic disorder but luckily we have effective methods for helping your pup feel safe while home alone. I am a certified Separation Anxiety Pro Trainer, having completed Julie Naismiths SA Pro Trainer Program. I helped my puppy overcome her separation anxiety and can help you and your pup too! If you have additional questions, you are welcome to schedule a free 30 min phone consultation! You can also go straight to our course page to enroll today!

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Who Gets Separation Anxiety

People used to think of separation anxiety disorder as a condition that begins in childhood. For an adult to receive that diagnosis, typically symptoms would have to occur before the age of 18 according to a 2013 review in the journal Clinical Psychology Review

The most recent revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders recognizes that separation anxiety disorder can occur in children and adults. Instead of lumping the diagnostic criteria under “Disorders Usually Diagnosed in Infancy, Childhood, and Adolescents,” the DSM-5 classifies separation anxiety disorder as an “anxiety disorder.”

Separation anxiety disorder in adults may go underdiagnosed for many years, per Clinical Psychology Review. Data from one nationally representative survey suggest the lifetime prevalence of adult separation anxiety disorder is 6.6 percent.²

“While historically believed to be prevalent only in childhood, it’s now understood that separation anxiety causes significant difficulties for many adults,” said Zakarin. Experts agree, though, that people who experienced childhood separation anxiety are definitely at an increased risk of developing adult separation anxiety. And if you have a family history of separation anxiety disorder or any other mental health disorder, you could be at greater risk as well, Zakarin added.

How Can I Tell If My Child Has Separation Anxiety Disorder

All kids experience some separation anxiety. For infants and toddlers it is a normal stage of development which is connected to developing an attachment to parents and other caregivers. In older children, certain separation fears and worries are typical for their age. For example, lets say your child is starting his first day of kindergarten. He is likely to show some anxiety and discomfort when getting up and ready for school and going into the school for the first time. He may even cry when he comes home and say he wants to stay home and not return to school. If this period of anxiety is minor , lasts only a few days, and is replaced by a return to his normal mood and activities, this is probably normal separation anxiety. However, if your child remains significantly distressed about being away from you during the school day , this may be separation anxiety disorder.

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When I Need To Leave What Can I Do Immediately To Prevent Damage

This is an extremely difficult question. The goal of treatment is to reduce your dogâs level of anxiety by training her to feel comfortable in your absence. This can be a long process.

“Most owners will need to deal with the damage or vocalization immediately.”

Yet, most owners will need to deal with the damage or vocalization immediately. During initial retraining it may be best to hire a dog sitter, take your dog to work, find a friend to care for your dog for the day, board her for the day, or arrange to take some time off from work during retraining. Crate training or dog proofing techniques may work for those dogs that already have an area where they are used to being confined. For dogs with separation anxiety, crates should be used with caution because they can promote intense escape attempts and may result in fairly serious injuries. It is important to choose a room or area that does not further increase your dog’s anxiety. Your dog’s bedroom or feeding area may therefore be most practical. Booby traps might also be used to keep the dog away from potential problem areas. For vocalization, anti-anxiety drugs and pheromones may also be useful for short-term use, until the owner has effectively corrected the problem.

Overly Excited When You Return

Understanding Separation Anxiety in Children

Its cute when our cats are waiting at the door when we walk in, but a cat thats been anxious all day will be overly excited to see you. Jumping on you, weaving between your legs, and excessive vocalizing may be signs that theyve been unsettled since you left. Your cat may also not leave your side for a while afterward.

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Signs Someone Has Separation Anxiety

Women more common suffer from this disorder than men. What is more, people often confuse its symptoms with those of generalized anxiety disorder. You might find family members, significant others, or friends affected by separation anxiety. Try not to be scared of this difficulty with a loved one. You can help people who suffer from this form of anxiety. They need support from their loved ones to overcome the obstacles their mind has created.

Most people who suffer from separation anxiety are also often scared. They might feel confusion about their intense fears. They frequently choose not to share their pain with anyone else, which only makes their symptoms worse. Thats why its important to learn to recognize the signs of separation anxiety. Take a look at some key symptoms to look out for and what you can do to help.

Life Stress Or Unwelcome Changes

In some cases, separation anxiety might develop after a significant loss.

If youve just lost a loved one, you might begin to consider your own mortality, and your partners, for the first time.

Surviving a disaster or traumatic event can also prompt some unwanted familiarity with lifes transience. If your partner faced a dangerous situation, you might begin to feel terrified over what might happen the next time youre apart.

Spending a year in tight quarters during pandemic lockdowns can also prompt anxiety as you slowly begin to resume a more independent schedule. You probably got pretty used to each others company, however difficult that adjustment may have felt at first, and the sudden increase in alone time might feel uncomfortable.

Leaving home for the first time can also cause some stress, Botnick points out. Whether you move out to live alone or with a partner, you might feel unaccustomed to your new independence and anxious about being on your own.

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What Can I Do At Home To Manage My Separation Anxiety

For people with mild separation anxiety disorder, education and coping techniques may be enough to help you manage your symptoms. Some things you can do to help manage your separation anxiety include:

  • Learn about separation anxiety disorder.
  • Determine what triggers your separation anxiety.
  • Practice self-care.
  • Manage your stress.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Whether you or your child are experiencing symptoms of separation anxiety disorder, it can affect your quality of life. While a diagnosis of separation anxiety disorder is scary, its important to remember that its treatable. If you think you or your child may have a separation anxiety disorder, call your healthcare provider right away. They can help you determine a treatment plan thats right for you.

Help Your Child By Relieving Your Own Stress

Separation Anxiety in Dogs â How You Can Help

Kids with anxious or stressed parents may be more prone to separation anxiety. In order to help your child ease their anxiety symptoms, you may need to take measures to become calmer and more centered yourself.

Talk about your feelings. Expressing what youre going through can be very cathartic, even if theres nothing you can do to alter the stressful situation.

Exercise regularly.Physical activity plays a key role in reducing and preventing the effects of stress.

Eat right. A well-nourished body is better prepared to cope with stress, so eat plenty of fruit, vegetables, and healthy fats, and try to avoid junk food, sugary snacks, and refined carbohydrates.

Practice relaxation. You can control your stress levels with relaxation techniques like yoga, deep breathing, or meditation.

Get enough sleep. Feeling tired only increases your stress, causing you to think irrationally or foggily, while sleeping well directly improves your mood and the quality of your waking life.

Keep your sense of humor. As well as boosting your outlook, the act of laughing helps your body fight stress in a variety of ways.

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What Can Be Done To Retrain The Dog To Reduce The Dependence And Following

The most important aspect of retraining is to teach your dog to be independent and relaxed in your presence. Only when your dog will stay in his bed or relaxation area, rather than constantly following you around, will you be ready to begin mock or graduated planned departures.

“… teach the dog to be independent and relaxed in your presence.”

Attention-getting behaviors must not pay off. Any attempts at attention must be ignored. On the other hand, lying quietly away from you should be rewarded. Teach your dog that it is the quiet behavior that will receive attention, and not following you around, or demanding attention. Teach your dog to relax in his quiet area and to accept lengthy periods of inattention when you are home. You may have to begin with shorter sessions of inattention and gradually shape longer sessions. Training can progress much quicker if your dog learns the down stay and mat exercises on command . Be sure to schedule attention, interaction and play sessions and develop a routine while you are at home, and follow these with gradually longer sessions of inattention to try and approximate your times of departure. Your dog should get used to this routine so that you can depart while he is calm.

How Is Separation Anxiety Disorder Treated In A Child

Treatment will depend on your childs symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.

Treatment for SAD often involves a mix of the following:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy. This treatment helps a child learn how to better handle his or her anxiety. The goal is also to help a child master the situations that may lead to the anxiety.

  • Medicines. Antidepressant or antianxiety medicine may help some children feel calmer.

  • Family therapy. Parents play a vital role in any treatment.

  • School input. A childs school may also be involved in care.

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