Separation Anxiety Disorder in Children and Adults

Separation anxiety disorder (SAD) is the condition in which the person becomes the target of anxiety or becomes upset when he is separated physically from his caretaker.

This disorder is faced mainly by the little children who are in a typical developing stage and often face problems like: 

  • When children meet new people, they become afraid and nervous
  • When the children meet new people, they become upset because of the situations they are not familiar with, and they do not know how to react
  • When they are alone somewhere without their parents or some other person, they become frightened
  • When they are left with some close friends or even any family member, they cry and stick to their parents

Separation anxiety disorder occurs mainly after two years, but it can become an issue again in any phase of life. This problem that occurred in childhood can be continued to adulthood. These children felt unsafe sometimes and difficulty in some situations and could not manage to overcome them. Some children make separation anxiety disorder an overwhelming issue as they have gone through traumas and certain disturbing situations like abusage, any attack, or losing someone you loved the most.

When adults face separation anxiety disorder, it becomes more likely that they will fall for substance abuse. They start thinking that alcohol or some other drug is a relief to this problem and a natural solution to end this anxiety. And by doing so, they, rather than solving this short-term issue, make it a long-term problem by becoming an addict to drugs. 

Separation Anxiety Disorder in Grown-Ups

The Clinical Psychology Review journal mentioned that this separation anxiety disorder exists in adults but is under-diagnosed properly as it is considered a problem related to small children. But, it is more likely that the signs and symptoms of anxiety disorder will begin to appear in childhood, and also, they will be diagnoses in their teens when these symptoms are not apparent after the age of eighteen.

In this study, it is Indicated that separation anxiety disorder is an issue for adults. Still, it also spreads widely and can coexist with some other diagnoses, and in nature, it can be debilitating.


 Codependency is a common issue both in drug abuse and separation anxiety disorder. It was once seen and believed to be an issue only in individuals who enabled loved ones who were addicted.

It was discovered that the drug addicts who were under treatment had difficulty building the boundaries in their relationship positively.

Similarly, the adults who were suffering from separation anxiety disorder also faced trouble in functioning independently. They needed someone to be there for them. 

Some of the signs and symptoms of codependency are: 

  • In a Codependent relationship, the person isolates himself in a primary relationship
  • The person prioritizes others’ needs and desires and does not focus on his own needs and wishes
  • The individuals start to feel that doing something will make them lose a close to their heart or lose their love and attention
  • They become anxious whenever they think about existing relations or making new ones

If any of these problems exist, then they should be taken under consideration during the treatment. And it is more often than the desire for drinking or using some other drugs that increase when anxiety related to separation anxiety disorders increases. The healing process includes creating some healthy boundaries in relationships so that own independence is also considered. 

Separation Anxiety Disorder Treatment

Separation anxiety disorder in young children is not frequently treated; it is indeed a usual development phase. Whenever it persists and interferes with an individual’s ability to function, then it’s the right time to pursue and seek assistance.

Personal therapeutic approaches are directed therapies that would help the individual move forward, but they have included the individual on someone they are reliant on. Anti-anxiety drugs and personal treatment allow individuals to work on underlying problems and solve their unique stimuli and triggers. For instance, Individuals living and suffering from SAD may receive their benefits. This could, ultimately, be equally vital for the individual to undo.

Furthermore, this might be equally necessary for an individual to seek help with the individual from whom they are afraid of becoming detached; Family and relationship counselling and educational seminars for all individuals involved could also be beneficial.

Signs of Separation Anxiety Disorder

Separation Anxiety Disorder is a type of panic disorder that can cause many short-term and long-term problems. It can be difficult to determine if your child has Separation Anxiety Disorder because there are subtle signs and symptoms that can go unnoticed. Because of these symptoms, a child with Separation Anxiety Disorder can go untreated for a long time, with serious consequences. Recognizing these signs can help you determine if your child needs to be seen by a doctor.

Mild cases of separation anxiety disorder do not require medical treatment. In milder cases, the symptoms can be treated with behavioral therapy, medications, relaxation techniques, support groups or other support options.

The ultimate goals of treating this disorder are building a sense of independence in the patient, reducing anxiety in both the patient and caregivers, teaching the patient and family/ caregivers about the importance of frequent, natural separations, and decreasing the likelihood that the patient will develop an addiction to any of the treatments. A doctor’s evaluation can help determine if these goals are met.

Because Separation Anxiety Disorder can often lead to depression, patients who are treated as though they are depressive may react negatively to treatment, which can compound the problem. For this reason, it is critical that any parent recognize the potential for depression in their child. When depression is suspected, the parent should immediately begin treatment to treat the symptoms of Separation Anxiety Disorder. Because some people may not have this disorder, or only experience mild Separation Anxiety Disorder, it is important that treatment options are discussed early on so that if it does develop, it can be successfully treated.

If Separation Anxiety Disorder develops, there are some common treatment options

  • There is an increase in anxiety, and the person becomes stressed when the person attached to is not around
  • They face disruption in sleep. For example, people have nightmares. They face difficulty in sleeping, insomnia, etc.
  • They prefer staying at home rather than going out, especially without the person they love the most 
  • There is an increase in physical problems
  • They become more concerned about the person they are attached to and become worried about their safety

The most common treatment for Separation Anxiety Disorder is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This treatment is the most widely used, as it addresses the core issues of Separation Anxiety Disorder, including negative thoughts and emotions, avoidance behaviors, worries about leaving home, apprehension about leaving the parents, and concerns about social behaviors associated with being separated from the parents. CBT usually involves family sessions where therapists assess the situation and discuss possible solutions. There are also self-help programs that can be purchased online or through local hospitals and care facilities. These programs offer a variety of strategies, such as relaxation techniques, breathing exercises, imagery and journaling.

Another common treatment is medication. There are several medications available to help manage Separation Anxiety Disorder, including antidepressants, mood stabilizers, anti-anxiety medications, and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

SSRIs are an anti-depressant that may be used to treat the symptoms of Separation Anxiety Disorder, including obsessive-compulsive behaviors and panic attacks. It should be noted, however, that SSRIs have been known to increase suicidal ideation in individuals already suffering from depression. If you have any concerns or questions about your mental health, do not hesitate to contact your doctor or mental health professional.

There are several treatments available for those suffering from Separation Anxiety Disorder. These options include therapy and prescription medications, both of which have proven effective. It should be noted, however, that these methods should only be considered as a first option and should be used under the supervision of a licensed therapist or doctor. As with all medical conditions, proper diagnosis is critical in order to effectively treat this condition. With proper diagnosis and a proper treatment plan, anyone with Separation Anxiety Disorder can live a full and successful life.

Separation Anxiety Disorder in Childhood Does Not Indicate Adult Anxiety Disorder

In many reports, it is written that it is doubtful to talk about the problem of separation anxiety disorder that occurred in an individual’s childhood that will be increased and carried to adulthood. When adults face separation anxiety disorder, it becomes more likely that they will fall for substance abuse. They start thinking that alcohol or some other drug is a relief to this problem and a natural solution to end this anxiety. And by doing so, they, rather than solving this short-term issue, make it a long-term problem by becoming an addict to drugs. 

In an  American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Journal, it was published that separation anxiety disorder in childhood is not responsible for the occurrence of agoraphobia or panic disorder in adulthood. 

But in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, it was published that if any panic disorder already exists in parents, it can lead to separation anxiety disorder in children.

Children can face some severe disorders like atopic disorder. Hence, a separation anxiety disorder can lead to similar problems in the child. Separation anxiety disorder can cause problems for the patient and their friends, family, and loved ones. This can also affect their work and well-being.

The Existence of Co-Occurring Disorders

It is written in several publications that separation anxiety disorder is a diagnosis in adults are related to other mental health issues and problems.  

For example, In one of the Journal of Affective Disorders studies, it was published that severer sadness was most likely to occur in those who were already suffering from a separation anxiety disorder in adulthood.

In another study of the Journal of Traumatic Stress, it was published that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)  is related to separation anxiety disorder in adults. For those struggling with separation anxiety disorder, substance abuse is a very common problem. The intake of different drugs like alcohol, marijuana, heroin and may also take sleeping pills to get relief.

This causes several problems that include:  

  • Anxiety increases when the substance abuse increase instead of getting relaxed
  • There may be some acute health problems
  • There can also be some other long-term health issues. 
  • This addiction to the substance can lead to the disability of the patient to work properly, and they are also not able to maintain good relationships.

The Dual Diagnosis Treatment for Such Individuals

Co-occurring disorders are closely related to the signs, symptomatic expressions of separation anxiety disorder. Dual Diagnosis rehab is recommended so that the patient can recover easily.

Through the services and different applications, the dual diagnosis provides solutions to the problems that are a barrier to living a good life. 

  • Intensive evaluation: The rehabilitation of the patients diagnosed with separation anxiety disorder must be started in a period of diagnosis and intensive evaluation. There are a few issues that remain under-diagnosed. Some of them have effects on the patient’s character, which is mainly due to overdose and persistent use of drugs. It is very important that before starting the treatment, the doctors should have all the information about what is needed for the recovery of the patient, especially when there are a lot of diagnoses available, so that the best possible care can be provided to the patient. 
  • Stabilization and Detoxification: The patient should be physically stable before starting the treatments, as the usage of drugs can be overwhelming. 
  • Medical assistance and Medication: Some people may need many medicines to help them recover from their choice of drug and get rid of addiction. Some may require medical treatment and assistance to handle acute or excessive mental health issues unless they improve during the therapy.
  • The therapeutic program was specific to SAD: For the patients’ assistance, several therapeutic inventions are invented that will help them overcome problems of separation anxiety disorder. The mechanism and the use of the invention are different for every patient.
  • Treatment options that are holistic: Patients are often advised to enroll in a therapy service that gives holistic and alternate treatment options for a better overall result. These therapies help patients understand how to create changes in their lifestyles. This promotes a well-balanced diet, adequate sleep, reduced levels of stress, and regular exercise. To increase their general heal well-being being. When combined with medical and professional assistance, these will help individuals prevent relapse and gain the best out of their therapy.
  • Assistance with aftercare: It is crucial to establish up for nearly a year with aftercare services and support, regardless of the particulars of rehabilitation for separation anxiety disorder and how far a person stays engaged in ongoing and comprehensive therapy. This allows the individual to be encouraged when they come back to their homes and motivate them to begin to put their revised concepts into practice throughout the community while still receiving assistance. It also allows them to receive the help they really need to deal with problems as they emerge without returning to previous, bad behaviours and habits.

Here You’re Not Alone

It is reported by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that the most common mental health problems that are diagnosed in the U.S. are separation anxiety disorder. Separation anxiety disorder can cause problems for the patient and their friends, family, and loved ones.

This can also affect their work and well-being. The prevalence rate of such diseases is over 15%, and the previous year existence is as significant as 10%.

Individuals who are suffering from separation anxiety and some of their families members and even the ones they love may face challenges at home, jeopardizing everyone else’s willingness to lead a healthy life, thrive at their job, and contribute to society as a whole.

If any individual is closer to you and is suffering from any problem or needs support because they are going through separation anxiety disorder, tell them they are not alone. Moreover, it would help if you also supported individuals suffering from other mental health problem. It would be best if you reassured them that you are with them. Educate them to go for treatment. Help them in moving forward safely and in a better way by properly catering separation anxiety disorder.