Who Is Affected By Separation Anxiety Disorder
All children and adolescents experience some anxiety. It is a normal part of growing up. However, when worries and fears are developmentally inappropriate concerning separation from home or family, separation anxiety disorder may be present. Reports indicate that SAD occurs equally in males and females. However, studies suggest that males experiencing symptoms of SAD are more likely than females to be referred for help and receive treatment.
The first symptoms of SAD usually appear around the third or fourth grade, but this is not always the case. Typically, the onset of symptoms occurs following a break from school such as holidays or an extended illness. It is estimated that about 4 percent of younger children have SAD, while the estimate for adolescents is slightly lower. Children of parents with an anxiety disorder are more likely to have an anxiety disorder.
Common Causes Of Separation Anxiety Disorder
Common causes of separation anxiety disorder in children include:
Change in environment. Changes in surroundings, such as a new house, school, or day care situation, can trigger separation anxiety disorder.
Stress. Stressful situations like switching schools, divorce, or the loss of a loved oneincluding a petcan trigger separation anxiety problems.
Insecure attachment. The attachment bond is the emotional connection formed between an infant and their primary caretaker. While a secure attachment bond ensures that your child will feel secure, understood and calm enough for optimal development, an insecure attachment bond can contribute to childhood problems such as separation anxiety.
An overprotective parent. In some cases, separation anxiety disorder may be the manifestation of your own stress or anxiety. Parents and children can feed one anothers anxieties.
If it seems like your childs separation anxiety disorder happened overnight, the cause might be something related to a traumatic experience rather than separation anxiety. Although these two conditions can share symptoms, they are treated differently. By understanding the effects of traumatic stress on children, you can help your child benefit from the most fitting treatment.
Risk Factors For Anxiety Disorders
Genetics , environment and this interaction can cause anxiety disorders.Other risk factors that might increase an anxiety disorder are the following.
- Temperament and personality. Those who favor neuroticism, trait anxiety, behavioral inhibition, and negative affectivity seem sensitive to depression and anxiety.
- Parenting style and parental modeling might have an influence on anxiety disorders. Parental overprotection and parental rejection showed increased rates in the risk for phobias or depression.
- Childhood Adversities. Loss of parents, divorce, physical and sexual abuse all are associated with the onset of mental illnesses in adults in the US.
- Life Events. Life events that are threatening or feel like a loss are bad for our mental health. Losing a parent at a young age, being separated from them, or feeling deep humiliation in an event could negatively influence our mental health.
In short, it can be a mix of many facets.
These risk factors can also play together.
Imagine you and your child went through a traumatic event. You are on vacation taking the bus. You push in your childs stroller and get locked outside the bus.
The bus leaves with your child in it and you cant do anything about it. Your child might not remember for the rest of their lives if they are lucky.
You, in contrast, will mostly go through a living hell and panic trying to get your child back. We could all agree that this situation might lead to parental overprotection and anxiety on your part.
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Prevention Of Separation Anxiety Disorder
Preventive measures to reduce the incidence of separation anxiety disorders in children are not known at this time. However, early detection and intervention can reduce the severity of the disorder, enhance the childs normal growth and development, and improve the quality of life experienced by children or adolescents with separation anxiety disorder.
Talk To Them About The Separation
Even if your child doesnt understand everything you say quite yet, you can still sit down with them and talk about the separation.
Explain how its ok that you are apartyou still love each other and can feel the other person in your heart.
Talk about their specific fears really listen and try to address them. Also, talk about what they should do when they feel those fears.
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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.
Professional Help For Separation Anxiety And Separation Anxiety Disorder
You know your child best. If youre worried about his separation anxiety, consider seeking professional help. Here are some places to start:
- your childs teacher at preschool or school, or a school counsellor
- your childs GP or paediatrician, who will be able to refer you to an appropriate mental health practitioner
- your local childrens health or community health centre
- a specialist anxiety clinic
- your local mental health service.
If your child is aged 5-8 years, she can talk with a Kids Helpline counsellor by calling 1800 551 800, or using the Kids Helpline email counselling service or the Kids Helpline web counselling service.
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Plan Something Fun For Them To Do During The Separation
What does your child like to do? What would be a fun activity for them to do while you are away?
Plan it together and let them know its something special you get to do with the babysitter or another person who will be watching them.
Talk about how much fun it will be and how they can tell you all about it when you get home. Hopefully, this can help them look forward to the time rather than dread it.
These are some of the tips for you to follow when you notice the early symptoms of . As parents, you can try your best to deal with the issue as early as possible.
But, if the separation anxiety disorder is getting worse with time, do not neglect it and consult the doctor as soon as possible. Timely medical intervention can prove to be a savior for your child.
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How To Tell Separation Anxiety In Children
Some children experience separation anxiety, which is to be expected. Infant and toddler isolation is a natural phase in their growth, linked to forming an attachment to parents and other caregivers. Certain separation apprehensions and concerns are normal for older kids at specific ages.
Lets assume your child is starting his first day of kindergarten. When he rises and prepares for school, goes there for the first time, and comes home crying that he does not want to return. He will likely be anxious and uncomfortable.
If this period of worry is short , lasts only a few days, and is followed by a return to his usual mood and activities, its probably normal separation anxiety.
However, if your child is in severe distress about being away from you during the school day , this might be a separation anxiety disorder.
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Helping A Child With Separation Anxiety Disorder
None of us like to see our children in distress, so it can be tempting to help your child avoid the things theyre afraid of. However, that will only reinforce your childs anxiety in the long term. Rather than trying to avoid separation whenever possible, you can better help your child combat separation anxiety disorder by taking steps to make them feel safer. Providing a sympathetic environment at home can make your child feel more comfortable. Even if your efforts dont completely solve the problem, your empathy can only make things better.
Educate yourself about separation anxiety disorder. If you learn about how your child experiences this disorder, you can more easily sympathize with their struggles.
Listen to and respect your childs feelings. For a child who might already feel isolated by their disorder, the experience of being listened to can have a powerful healing effect.
Talk about the issue. Its healthier for children to talk about their feelingsthey dont benefit from not thinking about it. Be empathetic, but also remind your childgentlythat they survived the last separation.
Anticipate separation difficulty. Be ready for transition points that can cause anxiety for your child, such as going to school or meeting with friends to play. If your child separates from one parent more easily than the other, have that parent handle the drop off.
Keep calm during separation. If your child sees that you can stay cool, they are more likely to be calm, too.
Common Questions About Separation Anxiety In Babies 0
- Why do babies develop separation anxiety?
- How do I tell if my baby has separation anxiety?
Your child may show several signs if separation anxiety develops, including: Getting upset and clingy, and possibly crying, when you try to leave them Acting shy and withdrawn around strangers, as well as occasionally people they are more familiar with Struggling to sleep through the night, waking up crying, and refusing to sleep without you around.
- How can I handle separation anxiety, and prevent separation anxiety disorder?
There are lots of methods of helping your baby if they are experiencing separation anxiety and you want to prevent separation anxiety disorder or other anxiety disorders from developing, including the following: Practise with shorter separations with familiar people, and slowly build up to longer separations, with more unfamiliar people Comfort your child when theyre upset, but avoid lingering when leaving, as it can increase their worries Develop routines to bring stability and consistency to your babys life, reducing stress these can be goodbye rituals and bedtime routines If theyll understand, try to talk to them about what is going on tell them you have to go, but youll be back after theyve had their nap
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Financial Support For Children With Separation Anxiety
To get these rebates, your child will need a mental health treatment plan from a GP , or a referral from a psychiatrist or paediatrician. It doesnt matter how old your child is.
What Happens If Separation Anxiety Disorder Is Left Untreated
Potential complications of separation anxiety disorder include depression and anxiety problems as adults, as well as personality disorders, in which anxiety is a major symptom. Adults with separation anxiety disorder have a guarded prognosis due to their being at risk of being quite emotionally disabled.
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In An Academic Setting
These symptoms may manifest further as children with separation anxiety disorder refuses to step foot in the school. They may have a hard time saying goodbye to their parents, to the point of throwing a fit when they leave. They might continue crying as if they are in pain and screaming for their parents, constantly wanting to know if they are okay.
Children with separation anxiety disorder would feel constantdistress while separated from their parents, which could lead to them beingunable to get anything done. They refuse to interact with others, even theirteachers. They may then fall behind on their coursework.
Children with separation anxiety disorder tend to suffer from pooracademic performance as well as alienation from their peers.
Get Your Child Comfortable Before Leaving
Primarily if you use a babysitter or other child care, your child needs to get to know the person you will be leaving them with.
So, before you leave your child with someone, set aside some time for you and your child to sit down with them.
Help your child feel comfortable around them and warm up to them. Interact with the person, and then have the person interact with your child.
If your child can feel comfortable with them while you are there, then there is a higher chance of them being ok with that person after you leave. This method is an excellent way to ease childrens separation anxiety.
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Symptoms Of Separation Anxiety Disorder
Kids with separation anxiety disorder feel constantly worried or fearful about separation. Many kids are overwhelmed with symptoms such as:
Fear that something terrible will happen to a loved one. The most common fear a child with separation anxiety disorder experiences is the worry that harm will come to a loved one in the childs absence. For example, the child may constantly worry about a parent becoming sick or getting hurt.
Worry that an unpredicted event will lead to permanent separation. Your child may fear that once separated from you, something will happen to maintain the separation. For example, they may worry about being kidnapped or getting lost.
Refusal to go to school. A child with separation anxiety disorder may have an unreasonable fear of school, and will do almost anything to stay home.
Reluctance to go to sleep. Separation anxiety disorder can make children insomniacs, either because of the fear of being alone or due to nightmares about separation.
Physical sickness like a headache or stomach pain. At the time of separation, or before, children with separation anxiety problems often complain they feel ill.
Clinging to the caregiver. Your child may shadow you around the house or cling to your arm or leg if you attempt to step out.
Who Can Get Separation Anxiety Disorder
If separation anxiety continues past this age, or if it manifests in an older child, this can be a sign of separation anxiety disorder. The average age for the onset of the disorder is 67 years.
Older children and teenagers may experience symptoms, particularly during times of stress.
Both males and females can experience separation anxiety. A child is more likely to develop the condition if they have a parent with an anxiety disorder.
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