Causes And Risk Factors For Separation Anxiety
Professionals in the field have yet to conclude a single identifiable cause for separation anxiety disorder. However, most in the field of mental health believe that the development of this disorder occurs when certain genetic, physiological, and environmental factors are working together. Additionally, research has concluded that there are some additional risk factors that can make a person more susceptible to developing this form of anxiety. Consider the following explanations:
Genetic: Research has found that 73% of individuals who meet diagnostic criteria for separation anxiety disorder have a family history of this mental health condition. Because of this link between family members who suffer from the same mental illness, it can be deduced that separation anxiety disorder can, in fact, be inherited. This case is especially true for individuals with a first-degree relative who have a history of this mental illness.
Physical: As with other anxiety disorders, those who are suffering from separation anxiety disorder have been found to have certain chemical imbalances in their brains. Specifically, neurotransmitters that are responsible for regulating mood and impulses are often not regulated in the brains of these individuals and can lead to the onset of anxiety symptoms. When these chemicals are not balanced, a persons ability to respond to stress is hindered and can cause an exacerbated startle response to minor triggers or to perceived fear or danger.
What You Need To Know About Supporting Your Little One
Spending time away from your little one can be painful for both of you. But sometimes, saying goodbye can create feelings of worry and upset in your child. Here are some things to look out for and ways you can help your young one manage such difficult feelings and ultimately feel more safe and secure.
Common Symptoms Of Separation Anxiety
The following is a list of symptoms that may indicate separation anxiety:
Urinating and DefecatingSome dogs urinate or defecate when left alone or separated from their guardians. If a dog urinates or defecates in the presence of his guardian, his house soiling probably isnt caused by separation anxiety.
Barking and HowlingA dog who has separation anxiety might bark or howl when left alone or when separated from his guardian. This kind of barking or howling is persistent and doesnt seem to be triggered by anything except being left alone.
Chewing, Digging and DestructionSome dogs with separation anxiety chew on objects, door frames or window sills, dig at doors and doorways, or destroy household objects when left alone or separated from their guardians. These behaviors can result in self-injury, such as broken teeth, cut and scraped paws and damaged nails. If a dogs chewing, digging and destruction are caused by separation anxiety, they dont usually occur in his guardians presence.
EscapingA dog with separation anxiety might try to escape from an area where hes confined when hes left alone or separated from his guardian. The dog might attempt to dig and chew through doors or windows, which could result in self-injury, such as broken teeth, cut and scraped front paws and damaged nails. If the dogs escape behavior is caused by separation anxiety, it doesnt occur when his guardian is present.
You May Like: How To Deal With Separation Anxiety In Adults
How Does Separation Anxiety Disorder Effect Adults
Signs & Symptoms
- What if something bad happens to my parents/spouse?
- What if I get lost or something bad happens to me?
- What if my spouse forgets to pick me up after work?
- What if I get attacked or mugged?
- What if I my boss asks me to stay late or to go away to that conference?
- Reluctance to apply for a job, or to seek a promotion
- Avoidance of participation in new activities or going places without a loved one
- Refusal to spend time alone
Horse Courses By Elaine Heney
Jennifer Williams, PHD, with EQUSS recommends taking one horse completely off the property for the two-weeks separation period. The horses shouldn’t be able to see, hear, or smell each other. Provide both horses with constant hay, toys, and distractions. Once they stop screaming in order to eat, you know you’re making progress. The goal is that after the two weeks are over, the horses will be more comfortable being on their own.
If you’re not confident in your ability to tackle the problem of equine separation anxiety, or if you’re afraid your horses are going to get hurt, contact a professional trainer.
You May Like: How To Calm Chest Anxiety
Easing Separation Anxiety Disorder: Tips For School
For children with separation anxiety disorder, attending school can seem overwhelming and a refusal to go is commonplace. But by addressing any root causes for your childs avoidance of school and by making changes at school, though, you can help reduce your childs symptoms.
Help a child who has been absent from school return as quickly as possible. Even if a shorter school day is necessary initially, childrens symptoms are more likely to decrease when they discover that they can survive the separation.
Ask the school to accommodate your childs late arrival. If the school can be lenient about late arrival at first, it can give you and your child a little wiggle room to talk and separate at your childs slower pace.
Identify a safe place. Find a place at school where your child can go to reduce anxiety during stressful periods. Develop guidelines for appropriate use of the safe place.
Allow your child contact with home. At times of stress at school, a brief phone calla minute or twowith family may reduce separation anxiety.
Send notes for your child to read. You can place a note for your child in their lunch box or locker. A quick I love you! on a napkin can reassure a child.
Provide assistance to your child during interactions with peers. An adults help, whether it is from a teacher or counselor, may be beneficial for both your child and the other children theyre interacting with.
How Common Are Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental, emotional and behavioral problems affecting children. About 13 out of every 100 children ages 9 to 17 years old experience some kind of anxiety disorder, such as separation anxiety disorder. Approximately 4% of children suffer from separation anxiety disorder.
Ways To Help A Friend With Separation Anxiety
You dont have to be a medical professional to help someone with separation anxiety. How do you help a friend with anxiety? There might not be a singular way to assist a friend with controlling their separation anxiety.
However, you can better prepare yourself to help someone with this disorder and support them in several ways. Your encouragement might provide the inspiration needed for them to seek professional assistance.
Solutions For Separation Anxiety
Your golden retriever is smart. So, it will notice certain noises and actions, such as jingling house keys and putting on shoes or coats, that lead to your departure. These can activate its anxiety. Luckily, there are treatments for a dogs separation anxiety at all ages.
If you get your golden retriever from a breeder, make sure they have weaned it from its mother at least eight weeks and have socialized it well.
Golden retrievers are high-energy dogs, and they need lots of exercise. Try to tire them out with a long walk before you leave for an extended period of time. A walk after you come back is also good because theyve been building up all that energy while you were gone.
While youre getting ready to leave, distract your Goldie with a puzzle so they wont see you. Pack the night before and try not to draw its attention to you with jingling keys or other noises. And dont make your exit a spectacle, either. Set up your dog to be safe and entertained with a toy or two, give it a treat then leave. Keep your goodbye short and sweet.
Dont give your golden retriever an extravagant hello when you return, as difficult as it may be.
Crate training your pet is an excellent thing to do, especially if its symptoms are destruction and escape. It will ease its anxiety to know it has a place of its own and ease yours knowing that it is in an enclosed place, safe from anything that can harm it.
Don’t Miss: How To Deal With Anxiety Attacks Naturally
What Are The Risk Factors
Those who suffer with clinical obsessive-compulsive disorder are more likely to experience separation anxiety as an adult. Furthermore, those with separation anxiety often have other coexisting conditions such as social anxiety, social phobias, panic disorder, agoraphobia, post-traumatic stress disorder , personality disorders, and generalised anxiety disorder.
It has also been found that being female, experiencing childhood adversity , or having a history of childhood traumatic events , increases your risk for adult separation anxiety. You may also be more likely to develop separation anxiety as an adult if you experienced it as a child.
Sometimes, a significant life change, such as a divorce, death, or even the recent coronavirus pandemic, can cause the development of adult separation anxiety.
However, it is important to remember that a person could have all of these risk factors and still not develop separation anxiety. Equally, a person can have none of these risk factors, but experience separation anxiety. These risk factors are a guide, but not a prediction.
What Is Separation Anxiety
Its natural for your young child to feel anxious when you say goodbye. In early childhood, crying, tantrums, or clinginessall the hallmarks of separation anxietyare healthy reactions to separation and a normal stage of development. It can begin before a childs first birthday and may reoccur until the age of four. While the intensity and timing of separation anxiety can vary tremendously from child to child, its important to remember that a little worry over leaving mom or dad is normal, even when your child is older. With understanding and the right coping strategies, your childs fears can be relievedand should fade completely as they get older.
However, some children experience separation anxiety that doesnt go away, even with a parents best efforts. These kids experience a continuation or reoccurrence of intense separation anxiety during their elementary school years or beyond. If separation anxiety is excessive enough to interfere with normal activities like school and friendships, and lasts for months rather than days, it may be a sign of a larger problem: .
Read Also: How To Know You Have Social Anxiety
Signs Of Separation Anxiety In Cats And What To Do About Them
Weve all seen the memes since this COVID-19 pandemic started about dogs who have had enough of you walking them, thank you very much. And in turn, the cat memes are all about them wondering when we are going back to work and giving them their much needed personal space back. We get it. Dogs tend to be goofy and friendly while cats are, ahem, a bit more discerning about their company. The truth is, though, cats have plenty of different personality types, and many of them do experience separation anxiety. This is particularly true of cats who were orphaned. And with many of you going back to work if you havent gone back already, its a good idea to know the signs of separation anxiety in cats.
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.
You May Like: How Can I Fall Asleep With Anxiety
What Is The Long
With proper treatment, the majority of children diagnosed with separation anxiety disorder experience a reduction or elimination of symptoms. Symptoms of SAD can recur when new developmental challenges emerge. When treatment is started early and involves the parent as well as the child, the childs chance of recovery without multiple recurrences improves.
Is It Normal To Have Separation Anxiety From Your Girlfriend
Yes, you read it right. Separation anxiety is real and you can, as the name suggests, actually suffer from anxiety at the thought of being separated from a loved one or a partner. While separation anxiety is a normal stage in an infants development, studies have proved that adults too suffer from this.
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.
When To Seek Professional Help
Your own patience and know-how can go a long way toward helping your child with separation anxiety disorder. But some kids with separation anxiety disorder may need professional intervention. To decide if you need to seek help for your child, look for red flags, or extreme symptoms that go beyond milder warning signs. These include:
- Age-inappropriate clinginess or tantrums.
Hotlines and support
In Canada, call the Parent Helpline at 1-888-603-9100 or visit Anxiety Canada for links to services in different provinces.