Separation Anxiety Disorder Guide: Symptoms, Treatment, Causes & More


Separation anxiety disorder is a condition that can cause children to have extreme fear of being separated from their caregivers. It affects up to 10 percent of children under the age of 18, making it one of the most common mental health conditions among young people. As a parent of a child with separation anxiety disorder, you might worry about what causes this condition and how best to help your child manage it. In this guide, we’ll discuss some basic facts about separation anxiety disorder, as well as give tips for treatment and management at home.

What is Separation Anxiety Disorder?

Separation Anxiety Disorder (SAD) is a mental health condition in which you have excessive, uncontrollable feelings of worry about being away from people. You may feel you cannot stop thinking about your loved ones and worry that something bad will happen. You might even feel as though your anxiety is getting in the way of things such as school or work.

Who Is at Risk of Separation Anxiety Disorder?

While it’s not clear exactly what causes separation anxiety disorder, there are some factors that can put a child at risk:

  • A traumatic event, such as being attacked or abused
  • A significant loss of a loved one
  • A significant change in their family structure (e.g., divorce)
  • The presence of anxiety or depression in a parent

What are the Symptoms of Separation Anxiety Disorder

People with separation anxiety disorder have persistent and excessive worry about being away from home or close relatives, such as parents or caregivers. They often worry that something bad will happen to themselves or loved ones while they’re away. People with separation anxiety disorder also may have trouble sleeping because of the worry. They might feel irritable or restless, too. These symptoms can occur while at home or when going to places like school, work, parties and restaurants.


How is Separation Anxiety Disorder Diagnosed?

Separation Anxiety Disorder is diagnosed by a mental health professional, who will consider the following criteria:

  • Persistent symptoms of anxiety around separation from home or parents/guardians
  • The duration must be at least 4 weeks in children and 6 months in adults
  • The intensity of the symptoms must interfere with social and/or occupational functioning

What are my Treatment Options for Separation Anxiety Disorder?

  • Medication.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
  • Psychotherapy.
  • Relaxation techniques: Sleep hygiene, meditation, progressive muscle relaxation and guided imagery can help you manage your stress levels and reduce your symptoms of separation anxiety disorder. If you’re not comfortable with these methods, research shows that yoga and tai chi may be beneficial in reducing symptoms of anxiety disorders including separation anxiety disorder.
  • Social skills training: This involves learning better ways to communicate with others and includes improving your assertiveness skills so that you can stand up for yourself without being aggressive or passive-aggressive about it; taking more ownership over tasks around the house instead of relying on others to do them; making plans independently rather than needing someone else’s help or approval before doing anything; learning how to say no politely but firmly when asked for something unreasonable (e.g., “I don’t have time right now”); etcetera! It’s important that this isn’t just some sort of “magic pill” solution—it requires effort on both sides during the process so that everyone gets what they need out of it eventually.”

What Can I Do to Manage My Separation Anxiety Disorder?

Now that you know more about separation anxiety disorder and its symptoms, it’s time to turn your attention to managing your anxiety. The first step is talking with your doctor about treatment options that are best for you—your doctor may recommend therapy or medication. You can also take part in clinical trials if there are any available at the time of your diagnosis. You should also see a mental health professional who specializes in treating anxiety disorders (psychologist or psychiatrist).

If you’re looking for some ways on how to manage separation anxiety disorder, here are some tips:

  • Practice relaxation exercises daily: Relaxation exercises can help reduce stress levels, which will make it easier for you to calm down when faced with triggers that make your symptoms worse. Yoga is one example of an exercise that promotes deep breathing and muscle relaxation; other examples include progressive muscle relaxation techniques, meditation, massage therapy and exercise (e.g., jogging).
  • Avoid triggers that exacerbate symptoms: If there are certain situations or events that trigger feelings of intense fear or panic (e.g., visiting family members’ houses), try avoiding those situations as much as possible until they become less distressing over time–you could also discuss this with a mental health professional so they can help come up with strategies specifically tailored towards each person’s needs

What is Separation Anxiety Disorder?

Separation anxiety disorder is a condition that affects children and young adults. It is characterized by excessive anxiety when separated from a parent or caregiver. The child may also have trouble sleeping or eating when away from the caregiver.

Children with separation anxiety disorder may worry about losing their parents and fear something bad will happen to them while they’re apart. They may cry, scream, cling to caregivers, refuse to go to school or other places alone and feel miserable when they are apart from the person they are attached to. In some cases these symptoms can be severe enough that they interfere with daily activities like going to school or playing with friends.

What are the symptoms of Separation Anxiety Disorder?

The most common symptoms of Separation Anxiety Disorder are:

  • A child who is clingy and dependent on a parent. This can be observed as excessive crying, clinging, or refusal to go to school or sleep without being near your child (for example, in bed with you).
  • A child who fears being left alone. This could be manifested by refusing to be left alone at home or refusing to sleep unless someone is there with them.
  • A child who refuses to sleep or go to school because they fear something bad happening while they are alone. For example, this might include nightmares about monsters attacking them while they’re sleeping—even if the monster isn’t real!
  • A child who has other sleep problems besides nightmares such as difficulty falling asleep at night; frequent awakenings during the night; drowsiness during the day because he/she didn’t get enough restful sleep last night; waking up early in the morning before he/she needs his/her alarm clock.

What causes Separation Anxiety Disorder?

There are a number of factors that may contribute to the development of separation anxiety disorder.

  • Genetics: Studies have shown that those with a family history of anxiety disorders or depression are more likely to suffer.
  • Anxiety disorders: Those who suffer from other anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and panic attacks. They also can face an increased risk for developing separation anxiety disorder. In some cases, symptoms can be confused with one another or misdiagnosed as a result of overlap in symptoms and signs.
  • Traumatic experiences: Experiencing trauma early on in life can lead to stress-related mental health issues later on in life. Including PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder), which has been linked to the development of separation anxiety disorder.
  • Parenting style: If your parents were overprotective or had strict rules around leaving home when you were young. It may cause you to develop feelings of discomfort when separated from them.
  • Childhood separation anxiety disorder: Some children experience actual symptoms similar to those seen in adults. Such as excessive worry about being away from home; refusal to go outside without an adult.
  • Childhood abuse/neglect: Children having experienced sexual abuse often report having problems coping with separations from their caregivers as adults.

How is Separation Anxiety Disorder diagnosed?

If you feel as though you’re suffering from separation anxiety disorder, it is important to seek treatment. A diagnosis of separation anxiety disorder can be made by a mental health professional. He involves talking to the person about their symptoms and family history. Doctor will also ask about childhood experiences, current relationships and any other factors that may contribute to the problem.

How is Separation Anxiety Disorder treated?

  • Medication: A doctor may prescribe medications to help you manage your anxiety symptoms. It will make easier for you to function in daily activities. These drugs include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as fluoxetine or sertraline, and tricyclic antidepressants, like venlafaxine. If your doctor recommends medication, make sure that you are comfortable with the side effects. That can come along with it before starting any treatment plan.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): This type of therapy helps people learn how to change their thoughts and behaviors so they can overcome problems related to anxiety disorders like separation anxiety disorder by becoming more aware of their emotions, learning relaxation techniques, preventing avoidance behaviors or changing how they think about situations triggering their fears

Can I prevent Separation Anxiety Disorder?

There is no known way to prevent Separation Anxiety Disorder. If you’re concerned that your child may develop separation anxiety, talk to their doctor about your concerns. Your doctor will be able to identify any symptoms in your child that require attention. It can help you determine whether or not treatment is necessary.

If you already have Separation Anxiety Disorder or another mental health condition, seek professional help from a psychiatrist. They can offer strategies for mental health, that it won’t get in the way of leading a healthy, happy life.


If you think that you or someone you know may have Separation Anxiety Disorder. It is important to seek help from a mental health professional. Separation Anxiety Disorder can be treated, and there are many effective treatments available. With early treatment most people with Separation Anxiety Disorder can return to normal functioning in their daily lives.


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