Separation Anxiety Disorder





Separation anxiety disorder is different from the normal separation anxiety that infants experience.  That type of anxiety is a normal part of the childhood experience.  Infants don't have a concept of time, therefore you if you disappear into the kitchen, it could be the next state for all they know.  To them you have simply vanished, possibly to never return!  Eventually babies develop something called object permanence which means they begin to understand that even though they can't see you, you do in fact still exist and better, will return.  This is when they start throwing their bottle onto the floor in an effort to summon you. 

Separation anxiety disorder occurs in childhood and includes excessive anxiety when separated from loved ones.  Rather than being caused by any one item, the disorder is likely the result of genetics and the local environment.  Roughly four to five percent of children suffer from separation anxiety disorder.

Symptoms of separation anxiety disorder include excessive worry about becoming lost or kidnapped, excessive worry about loved ones being harmed when separated, resistance to attending daycare or school, the need to be near loved ones when sleeping, physical complaints such as headaches when separated, and nightmares.  These symptoms may be the result of another mental health disorder.  If you suspect that your child may be suffering from separation anxiety disorder, please contact a pediatrician.  Upon examination your doctor may refer you to a child psychologist or psychiatrist.

Treatment of separation anxiety disorder may envolve counseling, including cognitive behavioral therapy.  Teaching the child how to deal with his/her anxiety through reward systems and various other techniques can be very effective in treating the disorder.  Medication is not usually needed.  If the disorder is severe enough that it is incapacitating, then medication may be prescribed.

If your child is suffering from separation anxiety disorder, take him to see a pediatrician as help is available.