Category: Separation Anxiety

The Roots of Separation Anxiety

Separation Anxiety in Adolescents

Separation anxiety is a disorder most often affecting children and adolescents.  It causes severe distress when the individual is separated from their parent or caregiver.  Though most children experience difficulty at some point being away from their parent or caregiver, what constitutes a disorder is the child or adolescent’s ability to participate in age-appropriate activities or behavior due to their distress.  The disorder is mainly diagnosed in children and affects approximately 4% of children.

Some signs and symptoms of separation anxiety include an extreme over attachment to a parent.  A fear of what could happen in the parent’s absence may also persist.  This fear and distress makes it difficult for them to say goodbye, be left alone in any capacity or go to sleep at night.  Children may feel a need to monitor their parent or caregiver’s safety by shadowing them in their presence or constantly checking on them through phone calls or texts.  Physical symptoms may include stomachaches, headaches or dizziness.

The above symptoms of separation anxiety may cause a child or adolescent to have frequent absences from school, difficulty behaving appropriately in social situations, frequent nightmares, and/or defiant behaviors such as tantrums.  Research has shown that separation anxiety may be hereditary but it is most likely triggered by changes to the child’s environment such as a move, a new school, or a divorce within the family.

Though separation anxiety can seem overwhelming, treatment is available.  Psychotherapeutic and psychopharmacological treatments are widely used to treat this disorder.  Psychotherapy is mainly focused on behavior modification with some exposure therapy.  If a child’s distress exceeds the psychotherapeutic approaches available, medications such as SSRI’s and anti-anxiety medications can be used to manage distress and better facility therapy.

If your child is displaying some of the above-mentioned symptoms, he or she may be suffering from separation anxiety.  The best course of action is to visit a qualified mental health professional to make a proper diagnosis and develop a course of treatment.  If you have questions about separation anxiety disorder and its treatment, contact Proliance Center today!

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