Separation Anxiety Disorder in Adults

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Separation Anxiety Disorder in Adults

Separation anxiety happens when someone is fearful of being removed from a specific person or people, or pets. Many people think of separation anxiety as a problem for children, adults can suffer from the same problem.

Separation Anxiety Disorder in Adults
Separation Anxiety Disorder in Adults

Physical symptoms of separation anxiety

A person develops extreme anxiety because of separation. An individual may be afflicted with physical symptoms due to anxiety about separation. They could be:

  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Sore throat

Separation anxiety can be seen among children, particularly those less than two years old. Children do not know, at this point that when their parent leaves the child is still with them and is coming back. Sometimes, a person suffering from separation anxiety in adulthood may have suffered from the disorder when they were children. Some may only experience it after aging.

 Signs of separation anxiety

Separation anxiety is a type of anxiety disorder. Other instances of anxiety disorders are anxiety disorders such as agoraphobia or panic disorder.

The American Psychiatric Association’s diagnostic manual for mental illnesses mental health conditions, the DSM-5 describes separation anxiety as the condition in which someone has a variety of the symptoms listed below:

  • A unique ache when separated from a pet or a person.
  • The fear that someone else is at risk excessive worry that someone else could be hurt if they leave them alone.
  • Higher fear of being isolated.
  • Physical symptoms when they realize they are likely to be separated from someone else within the next few days.
  • Anxiety and stress about the fear of being alone.
  • Having to know the exact location of a spouse or loved one constantly wondering where their loved ones are.
  • The symptoms may persist for six months or more for adults. These symptoms can cause severe distress, which can affect their occupational, social or academic performance.

What triggers separation anxiety in adults?

Adults’ anxiety about separation may originate from a parent or spouse, or a child who has moved away. It could also be a result of another mental health problem. These may include delusions from psychotic disorders or fear of change relating to an autism spectrum disorder.

Sometimes, people might classify adults with the disorder of separation as too protective or controlling. But, their behavior is typically an adult’s way of communicating their fear in relation to separation.

Risk factors of Separation Anxiety

Those with an obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD are more likely to experience separation anxiety as an adult, according to an article in the journal Personality and Mental Health. People who suffer from separation anxiety typically suffer from other conditions that are co-existing like social fears or panic disorders and agoraphobia (fear of being outside).

Other potential risk factors for anxiety related to separation as well as existing mental health issues such as:

  • Being female
  • Adversity in childhood, such as the loss of an individual in the family
  • The history of childhood traumas including abuse
  • Sometimes, a major life event like divorce or a child moving away from home to go to college could cause an adult to develop anxiety over separation.

As per the American Journal of Psychiatry, An estimated 43.1 percent of those who suffer from separation disorder, not as children suffer from the disorder at the age of 18.

How can it be diagnosed?

The past was when DSM-5 did not consider separation anxiety as a condition that lasted until the time a person reached the age of 18. In recent versions, the definition has been extended and now includes adults.

A doctor can diagnose separation anxiety by asking about the signs a patient is experiencing. A mental health specialist will employ the criteria, which are based on the most recent DSM-5 to determine the diagnose of separation anxiety for adults.

Treatment of separation anxiety

Treatment for separation anxiety by physicians is principally by using psychotherapy.

Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT)

This therapy seeks to assist people to discern the thoughts and behaviors that make their separation anxiety more severe. Parents can also study other parenting strategies that will lessen their anxiety about separation. A person may gain from group therapies or family therapy.

Anti-anxiety medicine

Doctors can also prescribe medications for anxiety to assist a patient with their most intense feelings of separation anxiety. These medications, however, do not always provide long-term solutions to the root of the problem and certain forms of anti-anxiety drugs may be addictive.

The person who is suffering should be involved in therapy so that they can begin to alter their ways of thinking, which will reduce the likelihood of experiencing separation anxiety.

Groups of support

Someone may also want to find an organization that can help those who suffer from anxiety and separation anxiety. Members of these groups will be able to get assistance in learning strategies to reduce anxiety related to separation.

Takeaway

While anxiety over separation in adulthood is not as common when a child suffers from this disorder, it is nonetheless possible that one might experience anxiety about separation even as an adult. It can become so severe that it becomes difficult to live a normal everyday life because of fears and anxieties about being separated from a person.

Patients should consult an experienced mental health professional in the event that they are unsure whether their worries are connected to separation. Through therapy, and in some cases, with medication individuals can lessen their symptoms of separation.

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