To have separation anxiety is normal to be experienced by anyone; may it be an adult, a teenager, or a child. This feeling is basically a fear or worry of being separated from a certain person, thing, or place. For instance, a child may show unwillingness to let his parents leave him alone at school or a parent may feel doubtful to send his daughter or son away to boarding school.
Most of the time, this type of social anxiety disorder is only temporary or short lived. However, when fear or anxiety becomes extreme, the condition is then categorized as Separation Anxiety Disorder or SAD. A person who has this type of anxiety disorder becomes extremely scared of being separated from the things or individuals that matter most to them. The fear is continuous and the feeling of social anxiety is intense.
A person is diagnosed to have separation anxiety disorder when the symptoms for the said condition lasted for four continuous weeks. The following are the symptoms for SAD:
- Excessive and persistent worrying about losing the person or object of attachment.
- Repetitive nightmares on separation.
- Recurring worries about being separated from the person or object of attachment.
- Refusal to sleep without being near the object of attachment.
- Excessive and persistent fear that a certain event will result to separation from the person or object of attachment.
In some cases, individuals who suffer from SAD are diagnosed to have other types of psychological disorders like panic disorder, ADHD, and bipolar disorder.
As for the cases of children, the parents are generally the first ones to notice if their children are suffering from SAD. A parent can easily determine if a child is suffering from separation anxiety disorder through the following signs:
- Excessive closeness or attachment at home.
- Zero desire to socialize or play with other kids at school or at the neighborhood.
- Noticeable change in appetite.
- Noticeable change in sleep.
Recent studies on SAD explain that there are a number of factors that trigger extreme anxiety on being separated from a particular object or person. These factors include genetics, environmental, family life, and biological. Genetics has a lot to do with SAD cases on children, for a child may inherit his or her parents’ extreme fear and anxiety of separation. It is possible for members of the family to pass on their condition to their children. In addition, a child may also develop SAD due to traumatic experiences, events, and affairs within the family.
Once a child is believed to have separation anxiety disorder, it is highly advisable for parents to have their children be seen and properly diagnosed by a doctor or a medical expert. As stated earlier, SAD may be a sign or symptom of other disorders, that is why having a correct diagnosis and immediate treatments are a must. Doctors generally recommend the young patients to undergo a series of psychiatric evaluations and tests to ensure a better future and health on the part of the children.