What is Separation Anxiety Disorder? Symptoms, Causes, Treatment 

Separation is a very bad experience and its fear is even worse, and it impacts equally both children and adults. Today, we’ll discuss what is separation anxiety disorder; its symptoms, causes, diagnosis, complications, and treatment.

What is Separation Anxiety Disorder? 

Separation anxiety disorder is when you’re fearful of being separated from some person or something like a pet or animal. Usually, people attach SAD with children, but adults could also experience such conditions. A person would develop and experience a high level of anxiety after the period of separation, and the person would exhibit physical symptoms like sore throat, headache, and nausea.

Separation anxiety is common among young children, especially those younger than 2 years old, and it’s a natural part of their childhood development. They aren’t familiar with many things and don’t understand it at that time, when parents are away, coming back, and still nearby. However, some adult people also experience SAD like children, and the others only experience it in their childhood while growing up.

Some children also exhibit the symptoms of separation anxiety in their teenage years and early grade schooling years. It’s common among 3 to 4% of the children, and it would point out issues relevant to mental health and general mood. According to a study, approximately one-third of SAD children would have the diagnosis of mental illness as an adult person when they grow up.

Symptoms of Separation Anxiety Disorder 

According to the diagnostic manual by American Psychiatric Association, a person would experience separation anxiety disorder when the following symptoms occur;

  • Desperately want to know where your loved one and spouse
  • Worry about being alone
  • Physical signs would start to appear when they know that the other person would be leaving them soon
  • Fear of being alone
  • Worrying that the person would be in danger after leaving them
  • Heightened distress after being separated from the pet or the person

The symptoms could prolong among adults for 6 months or more, and they would badly impact their academic, occupational, and social performance. However, when children go away from the caregivers or the parents, they exhibit the following symptoms of SAD;

  • Nightmares
  • Not going to sleep alone
  • Failing to connect with other kids in a healthy manner
  • Poor performance in the school
  • Refusing to visit the school
  • Emotional temper tantrum or violent
  • Physical symptoms like vomiting or headache
  • Avoid doing such things that would result in separation
  • Crying severely
  • Clinging to the caregivers or parents

Causes of SAD 

Separation anxiety starts when your child, partner, or parent goes away from you. The stress and anxiety of SAD have relevance with types of mental health issues. However, they comprise of fear of change to autism spectrum disorders, psychotic, and delusion disorders.

Some experts put adult SAD in a different category because it results in the form of overprotective and controlling behavior. Adults take action when it comes to expressing their fear of separations.

Diagnosis of SAD

Your doctor would ask you a series of questions and analyze the symptoms of SAD. After studying and analyzing various symptoms under the criteria of DSM-5, the doctor would diagnose the SAD condition.

When it comes to the diagnosis of children, the child should be exhibiting three of the abovementioned symptoms. The doctor would perform other tests in order to confirm the diagnosis. It’s possible that the doctor would communicate and watch your child. The parenting style also matters a lot in terms of how your child would deal with anxiety.

Risk Factor with SAD

The symptoms of SAD would start to develop when you lose someone dear and near to your heart, or the person goes to college. The probability of developing SAD is much higher if the person had already experienced SAD in childhood. However, adults diagnosed with SAD would also have the diagnosis of other mental health conditions like;

  • Personality Disorders
  • Social Anxiety Disorders
  • Panic Disorders
  • PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorders)
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorders

Treatment of Separation Anxiety Disorder 

Some of the main types of treatment of separation anxiety disorder are as follows;

CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy)

The focus of CBT is to allow a person to be mindful of some behaviors and thoughts that make you anxious. It’s advisable that the parents should learn some parenting techniques in order to lower separation anxiety. However, family therapy and group therapy could be equally beneficial.

Anti Anxiety Medication

After analyzing the symptoms, your doctor would recommend anti-anxiety medicines in order to deal with the symptoms of SAD. The medications aren’t a solution in the long term and they don’t address the underlying cause of the problem. However, it’s important to keep in mind some of the anti-anxiety medicines are highly addictive. You should follow such treatment that would help you to reduce the symptoms of SAD and change your thinking.

Support Group

If you’re facing a problem, then you should join the SAD support group and meet like-minded people. They would help you in learning some techniques to deal with symptoms of SAD.

Conclusion: What is Separation Anxiety Disorder? Symptoms, Causes, Treatment 

After an in-depth study of what is separation anxiety disorder; its symptoms, causes, risk factors, and treatment; we’ve realized that SAD could badly impact your life. If you or your acquaintances are exhibiting the symptoms of SAD, then you should consult the doctor.