Separation Anxiety in Adults – Symptoms, Causes and Treatment
Separation anxiety is a common issue often experienced during the early childhood. A thought of getting away from the parents or caretakers creates an extreme fear in a child but this fear tears out lastly by age of 3. However, in some cases this anxiety continues and can even reach adulthood in rare cases. Separation anxiety in adults results into an intense fear into the mind of the person who is going to experience a separation from any important person in his life. This separation can be from parents, caretakers or even a pet. The separation can make negative consequences in leading a fair work and personal life. This article will let you know about separation anxiety, it’s causes and signs. Some ways to treat it are also discussed. Keep reading to clear all your doubts :-
What is separation anxiety?
Separation anxiety refers to the extreme feelings of fear and stress in the mind of a person that is triggered when that person is going to experience a separation. While it’s not a separate disorder, the anxiety is linked with agoraphobia and generalized anxiety disorder. Little kids who are less than 3 years old who have always lived in their parent’s company, feel very worrying while getting out without them like when going to school. This is common. But as a child grows, he learns to enjoy. However, this anxiety continues in some children and leads into child separation anxiety disorder. Children with separation anxiety can think about nothing but their stress of separation. This condition can last longer and stay until adulthood leading to separation anxiety disorder in adults.
What causes separation anxiety in adults?
Separation anxiety in adults makes them extremely fearful about losing contact with their partner, friends, parents and family members. While main reason behind this condition is not clear, it is linked with other underlying mental conditions that a person is suffering from. Usually, a person with generalised anxiety disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, social anxiety disorder and panic disorder can experience symptoms of separation disorder. It is even observed that the daily life stress creates this fear in the mind of an adult. Genetics can also be the reason this anxiety.
Adults normally feel separation from their partner. Separation anxiety in adults is triggered from partner. Excess of emotional stress due to codependency, cultural differences and life stress induce separation anxiety in a relationship.
Symptoms of separation anxiety in adults
Apart from the feeling of getting away from the loved ones, which is quite common to have, separation anxiety in adults can cause an intensive amount of fear when they get out of reach of their loved ones. Experiencing such separation can boost their anxiety to an other level and it can even lead to panic attacks. The 3 common signs of separation anxiety found in adults are :-
- Feeling extremely hesitant and even refusing to leave the nearness of their closed ones.
- Anticipating the loss of their loved ones causing them feel distressed even with the thought of a separation from them.
- Having a persistent fear running in their mind that the other person will be harmed if they are leaved alone.
Such negative feelings can exacerbate the other side effects of stress. The fear of being alone heightens up in such person. Separation anxiety can also result into a toxic possessiveness in a relationship. Parents due to such condition will always consider harsh parenting techniques with a thought of protecting their children. A partner will be over protective to save the relation. He/she will always want to know where his/her partner is. Since, this problem is related with mental issues like agoraphobia and generalized anxiety disorder, there symptoms can prevail to make the condition worse. Physical problems are also caused due to it’s symptoms. It normally include stomachache, nausea and headache.
Since panic attack is also associated with separation anxiety, constant feelings about getting away can reach peak in a sudden. Separation anxiety in adults make them to refuse getting away from home or not staying at home alone without a loved one. Repeated nightmares about separation and not falling asleep without a loved one are also noticed in such people. Due to the effect of other problems, constant negative thoughts that something bad will happen strikes the mind.
Results have shown that people are more likely to have separation anxiety in adulthood if they suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Separation anxiety is an adult often brings other medical conditions like panic disorder and social anxiety. Females are more likely to have separation anxiety. Apart from this, past traumatic event like facing the illness and death of a loved one, parents getting separated or getting abused can contribute to this condition. A sudden life change like a daughter going to college and leaving home can make a person develop it’s symptoms. Environmental issues like facing a disaster causing separation from loved ones can cause this disorder.
How to treat separation anxiety in adults?
Separation anxiety is a major mental problem that, if not diagnosed, can become a big issue and hinder an adult in his personal and professional life. While the earlier belief that said that the condition of separation anxiety can last only till a person reach age of 18, it was not considered a noticeable issue.
A diagnosis of this problem is important. For this purpose, the doctor will organize a detailed examination that is based on the criteria specified in DSM-V. It states the different signs of separation anxiety. One is being intensively fearful and anxious about getting separated from the person that is important to you, such fear should be present in the person for more than six months, the symptoms should be worse enough to interfere with your daily functioning and these symptoms are best fitted in this category, not for any other disorder. The doctor will ask a number of questions to know about the truth of the condition. Friends and family members are also contacted to know about the severity of this condition in a person’s life.
As soon as the condition is diagnosed, it is advised to take a treatment without wasting any time. As separation anxiety in adults is also a mental disorder, all the treatment methods used for curing anxiety disorders work well in treating separation anxiety. You just need to test different treatments and stick to what fits you best. Some common methods are :-
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) aims at challenging and changing cognitive behavioral patterns and distortions. The therapy works great in solving this problem by developing coping strategies. With the help of this therapy, you can identify your behaviors and thoughts that triggers anxiety. You will also learn about new plans to lead a more comfortable life. Like, if you keep checking your partner, you will be able to know about good relationship goals and activities.
Seek help of support groups
Support groups have a wonderful job in letting a person lead a better life by reducing the stress within. Support groups can help the persons with anxiety and depression. As such, you can take help of a support group to treat your separation anxiety. Such support groups can provide great learning opportunities to help you avoid stress.
Apart from the two above, any kind of psychotherapy works great in treating separation anxiety in adults. Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and family therapy are also two worthy treatments. You can also take anti anxiety medications that may not be the long term solution but can help through acute symptoms of separation anxiety. You should just stick with the best treatment plan to avoid worsening of symptoms. And, as soon as you notice the symptoms of this condition, seek a professional help to prevent the issue getting significant.
Separation anxiety is a common issue in babies before they get ready to experience the world. However, separation anxiety lasts only for a few months and fades away completely by the age of 3. However, in rare adults this condition can still prevail. Having the ability to make a person keep worrying about any moment of separation from their closed ones, many physical problems are also accompanied with it. It can cause a serious implication on their work life. You should seek a professional advice as soon as you come to know about such condition. Just a consistent treatment plan and you will be able to enjoy life to its fullest.