Separation anxiety is when someone gets an overwhelming anxious feeling when separated from someone he or she is attached to. You have heard of this disorder in dogs, but it is also quite common in children. Separation anxiety can cause feelings of anxiety in a child which may last for weeks. People with this disorder will feel large amounts of distress and anxiety when separated from those they are attached to, in most cases their parents.

Symptoms of Separation Anxiety


Symptoms can be both physical and psychological. Here is a list of common psychological symptoms:

  •    High levels of anxiety when apart from an attachment figure
  •    The fear that something will happen to your attachment figure while you are separated
  •    Worrying that you will become separated from the attachment figure
  •    Fearing being alone
  •    Scared of going to sleep away from home or falling asleep away from the attachment figure
  •    Consistent nightmares about becoming separated

Now a list of physical symptoms (more common in teenagers and adults than children):

  •    Vomiting
  •    Nausea
  •    Stomach aches
  •    Headaches
  •    Bed wetting

Causes of separation anxiety Although most common in children, separation anxiety can be experienced by all ages. A common way for parents to first notice separation anxiety is a greater than normal difficulty in getting their child to school. The reason they may not want to attend school is that they do not want to leave their attachment figure. It is normal for children to experience small amounts of anxiety in their younger years when separated from their parents, home or even an object such as a toy or blanket which makes them feel safe. Problems occur if the condition continues and becomes worse, stopping the child going to school or performing normal daily activities.

Treatment for separation anxiety As with most anxiety disorders, we recommend Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for treating separation anxiety. To get a diagnosis of separation anxiety please talk to your child’s doctor, your doctor or see a mental health care professional. If after reading this article you believe you or someone you love has separation anxiety, then please seek medical help. There are many mental health professionals out there who are willing to treat this anxiety-related disorder to make life a bit easier for all involved.