Separation anxiety severely impacts a child
August 28th, 2017
Filed under: Anxiety disorder, Mental Health, treatment by Rachael

Saying goodbye to the people one loves can often be a painful experience, especially in the case of a young child. Separation from one’s parents at young age can make his or her situation more complicated that can eventually take the shape of an anxiety disorder. Some children are so attached to their parents that they tend to cry, cling and often decline from parting from them.

Separation anxiety, which is represented by symptoms like excessive fear or anxiety about separation from home or an attachment figure, was mostly associated with children under the age of 18 in the previous versions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). However, in the recent DSM, this condition has been acknowledged as an anxiety disorder that is present at all stages of one’s life.

During an infant’s developmental stage, separation anxiety is considered a normal feature that is considered as a stepping-stone that teaches children how to master their environment. Although it can be a panic-triggering situation for toddlers when they do not see their parents around. Gradually, when they begin to understand that their parents will eventually return, they get adapted to the circumstances.

While such anxieties can be considered normal, or a part of one’s life, there can be certain cases where the level of anxiety may intensify over a prolonged period to such an extent that it starts affecting one’s daily functioning. This condition may be referred to as separation anxiety disorder (SAD). Besides making a person isolated and apathetic toward creative activities, he or she is also likely to witness a number of mental disorders, such as depression, withdrawn symptoms due to SAD.

Causes and risk factors associated with separation anxiety disorder

Most parents tend to overlook the symptoms of SAD by considering them as a child’s ill temperament. The prime distinctions between normal separation anxiety and SAD can be measured in terms of the intensity of a child’s fear.

Several studies have also highlighted that nearly 73 percent of the people diagnosed with SAD hold a family history of relatives affected by this disorder. In fact, most children and adolescents who have a first-degree blood relation with SAD stand a strong genetic risk of developing this disorder. Other factors responsible for triggering SAD are as follows:

  • Changes in the child’s environment, such as changing house, switching school, etc.
  • Exposure to stressful situations, such as loss of a loved one like a pet or separation from attachment figures.
  • Parental influence can also act as a precursor of anxiety in a child. Overprotective parents affected by anxiety disorders are likely to pass on their problems to their child.
  • Adults enduring this disorder are uncomfortable to travel independently. They may also experience nightmares about separation from their loved ones.

During the early childhood years, one can identify the symptoms of separation anxiety in a child through a range of signs,  stomachache, crying, full-blown tantrums, etc. However, these signs can be intense on a Sunday afternoon, a Monday morning or after a vacation, when the child is anticipated to return to his or her school.

In most cases, such fears eventually vanish and make a child competent to realize his or her independence. Unfortunately, in some cases, such childhood fears tend to crawl along with them in their adulthood. Such individuals prefer to stay at home on weekends, decline an overnight party or limit their desires. For such adults, it often becomes difficult to socialize with their relatives or peers or hang out, as they are worried that they may have to stay out of home.

Say goodbye to anxiety

Separation anxiety may affect a child’s developmental functions. Children who struggle with SAD are extremely clingy toward their parents, reluctant to go to sleep alone, hesitant to attend a school camp or stay at a friend’s place, etc. They may often seem withdrawn, sad, etc., as well as have difficulty in concentrating on their normal activities like work or play.

If your child exhibits the symptoms of SAD, it is important to seek treatment at the earliest. An untreated condition can lead to more serious and irrecoverable problems. You can contact the Anxiety Treatment Advisors of Colorado to access a variety of evidence-based treatment plans. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-891-2539 or chat online with our medical experts to connect with the best anxiety disorders treatment centers in Colorado.

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