Separation Anxiety Disorder In Adults

When we hear about separation anxiety disorder, we usually think of children. However, adults too can suffer from it.
Separation anxiety disorder in adults

Separation anxiety happens when someone is afraid of separating from a person, animal, or object. Either way, separation anxiety disorder manifests itself, as one can guess, after a separation. The symptoms are diverse: nausea, headache or sore throat.

Separation anxiety is often felt by children, especially in the early years of their life. A child does not yet understand that when one of his parents leaves, he continues to exist in his life and to be there for him.

However, although this is understandable for adults who develop this disorder, in a way they are trapped in the absence of a certain person and then an anxiety arises from uncertainty, because they do not know when they will see her again. It is an uncertainty which can be particularly great in certain situations; for example, imagine the departure of a soldier for a place where attacks are perpetrated.

The main hallmark of separation anxiety disorder in adults is excessive worrying about being alone. But how do you know when this concern about loneliness turns into an anxiety disorder?

woman with separation anxiety disorder

According to the American Psychiatric Association, separation anxiety occurs when a person exhibits more than one of the following symptoms:

  • Unusual anxiety arising from being separated from a person or pet
  • Fear of loneliness
  • Very intense or frequent need to know where the other person is

In adults, these symptoms can last 6 months or more. They can cause significant anxiety that affects their social, occupational or school functioning.

Separation anxiety in adults can arise from separation from different figures, usually close and loved. On the other hand, this type of anxiety can be linked to another type of mental problem, such as delusions (psychotic disorders) or a fear of change (autism spectrum disorder).

Sometimes people may refer to an adult with separation anxiety disorder as dominant or overprotective. However, their actions are often an adult way of expressing their fears about separation.

As we said previously, separation anxiety can have its origin in childhood, and more specifically in the way in which the first bonds of attachment were woven. It can also derive from later experiences in which unexpected and sudden losses have occurred. On the other hand, people who have suffered from abuse or neglect are also a population at risk.

Separation anxiety in adults often develops after the loss of a loved one or after a significant event, such as attending university away from home. Divorce can also cause separation anxiety.

In addition, the likelihood of developing separation anxiety disorder in adults is greater if one is diagnosed with separation anxiety disorder in childhood. Adults who grew up with authoritarian parents may also be at greater risk. On the other hand, people with obsessive-compulsive disorder are more likely to experience separation anxiety as adults.

separation anxiety in adults

Adult separation anxiety disorder is often diagnosed in people who have also previously been diagnosed with one of the following disorders:

  • Generalized anxiety
  • Post-traumatic stress
  • Panic
  • Social phobia
  • Personality

Treatment for separation anxiety disorder in adults is similar to treatments used to treat other anxiety disorders. Possible treatments include the following therapies:

  • Cognitive-behavioral
  • Of group
  • Family
  • Dialectical behavior
  • Based on drugs such as antidepressants, anxiolytics or psychotropics

Either way, both the diagnosis and the treatment should be determined by a qualified professional. So, in the slightest doubt, the first step will be to consult.


Separation Anxiety: When Does It Become a Problem?
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Separation anxiety is a situation that we usually associate with children, but that many adults experience as well.

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