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Separation Anxiety: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Separation anxiety

Table of Contents

Guest article by Kristine Ramos

Separation anxiety disorder is the excessive expression of worry and irrational fear of being separated from someone to whom we are very much attached.

Separation anxiety can resolve naturally, but it can also cause serious emotional, psychological and physical stress. That’s why understanding separation anxiety is the first step to making a healthy adjustment.

How Separation Anxiety Affects You

What Are The Symptoms Of Separation Anxiety?

Common psychological symptoms that occur when experiencing separation anxiety are:

  • Constantly fearing that something may harm an absent loved one
  • Fear of being alone or losing contact with a loved one
  • Refusal or reluctance to go anywhere without the loved one 
  • Difficulty sleeping away from home 

Separation anxiety can manifest as physical symptoms, including:

  • Stomachaches
  • Nausea
  • Bedwetting
  • Headaches
  • Vomiting

Separation Anxiety can also be coupled with one or more of the following anxiety disorders:

  • Agoraphobia or fear of being trapped, helpless and embarrassed because of your panic attack episodes
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder(OCD)
  • Specific phobias
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder(PTSD)
  • Generalized anxiety disorder(GAD)
  • Panic disorder
  • Social anxiety disorder

The Possible Causes Of Separation Anxiety

Anxiety about moving away from home

Environmental: Separation anxiety is characterized by the feeling of vulnerability caused by new environment and unfamiliar elements that are surrounding you. The thought of not knowing what to do in that new environment can cause stress and worry as endless worst-case scenarios tend to play in mind. It can also be caused by feeling unsafe or threatened in your current environment.

Genetics: According to a study, although environmental influences can contribute to the development of separation anxiety in boys, genetics mostly contribute to the development of the disorder in girls. If one of the child’s parents suffered or is still suffering from separation anxiety, it can possibly be carried down to the baby while the mother is pregnant.

Physical: As with other anxiety disorders, chemical imbalances in the brain and nervous system can be a factor. Anxiety – including separation anxiety – can be a symptom of misfiring neurotransmitters responsible for the management of moods, behaviour and impulses. A highly-absorbable magnesium supplement, like Natural Calm, can help relax the nervous system, downgrading anxiety and panic.

Separation Anxiety Affects All Ages

Separation anxiety in kids

Separation Anxiety in Kids: It is normal for kids to experience separation anxiety while facing unfamiliar people and places. Whether going to school or when the parents are away for work or travel, children feel separation anxiety.

However, if the anxiety lasts longer than four weeks or the child is over 6 years of age, a separation anxiety disorder may underlie the feelings of distress.

Separation Anxiety in Adolescents: Teen years can be a difficult time. Hormones go wild, teens search for their place in the social hierarchy, and the pressure of setting out on the road to adulthood begins. No wonder anxiety of all kinds is so common among adolescents. Separation anxiety is most likely to kick in when teens start college life far away from home.

Separation Anxiety in Men and Women: Yes, even adult males experience separation anxiety. In this insightful article, we learn that separation anxiety doesn’t choose its victims. 

Mothers and fathers who work or travel away from their children may experience parental separation anxiety. First-time mothers tend to experience this more often, but it affects parents of all experience levels, including fathers. 

When Separation Anxiety Becomes Disordered

Separation anxiety in adults

Most separation anxiety resolves as we adjust to new life circumstances. In more severe cases, though, the anxiety can escalate into more serious mental health problems. These can include:

  • Inability to maintain jobs and responsibilities
  • Financial problems
  • Alcohol and drug abuse/addiction
  • Difficulty in maintaining relationships
  • Isolation from social interactions
  • Development of other mental health conditions
  • Suicidal thoughts and attempts

How To Treat Separation Anxiety

How to treat separation anxiety

Learn Everything You Can About Separation Anxiety

Whether you are helping someone suffering from separation anxiety or you are experiencing it yourself, here are some tips for adjusting.

Practice Separation For Kids And Teens

For Kids:

  • Leave them for brief periods of time at short distances and gradually extend the duration of separation
  • Do not prolong the moment or stall when you are leaving
  • Watch what you say. Instead saying “goodbye” opt to “see you later” instead
  • Give them something that reminds them of you or home (a pillow, blanket or teddy bear)

For Teens:

  • Gradually train them to do errands away from home
  • Give them time to travel on their own or with friends, unsupervised by parents
  • Encourage independence in social settings 

Attend Counselling/Therapy

Attending counselling is one of the best forms of treatment for separation anxiety which includes cognitive, behavioural, and individual psychotherapies. Therapy sessions such as these also offer parent counselling and teaching useful guides and tips on how to help people suffering from the disorder.

Add Calming Food For Your Brain

Magnesium: Most of the time, we may be clueless about it but anxiety and stress can be a product of magnesium deficiency. It is one of the calming nutrients that can help ease anxiety and panic attacks in both adults and children.

Extra B Vitamins: Vitamin B deficiency also contributes to anxiety as well as headaches, cramps, fatigue and irritability to name a few. This nutrient can help ease anxiety attacks and can help you calm down enough to be able to get your bearings.

Take-Away Tips

Separation anxiety is common, but separation anxiety can become a disorder and a significant mental health issue.

Whether you are moving to a new home, changing your family’s routine or sending your teen off to school, be sure to create the conditions for a calm, low-anxiety transition.

Author’s Bio: Kristine Ramos loves reading and has a passion for writing. She is a contributor for myfriendfernando and blogger by day, a gamer by night. She adores animals and if she isn’t reading or writing, she draws or plays video games. She mostly spends her time with her family and reading a good book.

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