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Finding the Best Separation Anxiety Disorder Treatment Center

Separation anxiety disorder is exactly what it sounds like: intense anxiety over being separated from a person or place to which the person is attached at a level that is beyond that which is “normal” for the person’s level of development.

It’s a disorder that’s common in young children but it can also affect tweens and teens as well. With treatment, the issue can be minimized and those who struggle with it can learn how to deal with the symptoms and be functional. Without treatment, the problem can grow into a lifelong mental health issue like agoraphobia, panic disorder, depression and others.

Children and Separation Anxiety Disorder

When children have separation anxiety disorder, they are usually feeling stress and anxiety about leaving home, a parent or a caregiver. Some exhibit symptoms that include:

  • Sadness (crying)
  • Social withdrawal
  • Apathy
  • Difficult time concentrating

It’s not just leaving you that may cause anxiety for your child. Any situation that your little one perceives as threatening to his ability to stay with you can trigger separation anxiety: animals, the dark, bedtime, accidents, new modes of travel (e.g., airplanes), etc. Concerns about death and dying may dominate your child’s thinking or cause them to complain that no one loves them or cares about them. When upset by a pending separation, they may even become aggressive.

Separation Anxiety Disorder Can Precede

  • Major depressive disorder
  • Anxiety disorder
  • Panic attacks
  • Dysthymic disorder
  • Agoraphobia

7 Signs of Separation Anxiety Disorder

Children suffering from separation anxiety disorder are often described as intrusive and needy, requiring so much attention that it is often disruptive to the rest of the family. Other signs may include:

  • Excessively upset by leaving home or being separated from the person of attachment
  • Persistent worry about possible harm or death of the person of attachment
  • Extreme fear of a disaster or dangerous event separating him from the person of attachment
  • Regular refusal to go to school or leave home or the person of attachment
  • Inability to be alone even if the person of attachment is elsewhere in the house
  • Inability to sleep alone without the person of attachment and/or nightmares about separation
  • Chronic complaints of physical ailments like headaches or stomachaches when separation from the person of attachment is imminent

Separation Anxiety Disorder Quick Facts

  • Separation anxiety disorder lasts for four weeks at a minimum.
  • Separation anxiety disorder signs begin before the age of 18 and usually during early childhood.
  • Separation anxiety disorder may be triggered by a trauma.
  • Separation anxiety disorder impairs the patient’s ability to function socially and academically.

Treatment for Separation Anxiety Disorder

The primary course of action for those who are struggling with separation anxiety disorder is counseling.

Learning how to modify behavior and reframe perceptions of threat and danger are key to helping your child learn how to work through the feelings associated with separation anxiety disorder.

Parent counseling is also important to help the child. It is important not to enable the child to continue in the behaviors associated with separation anxiety disorder or feed into the fears inadvertently or through well-meant choices. By learning more about the disorder and what is behind it as well as learning the same coping skills that your child is being taught in therapy, you can reinforce your child’s progress at home.

If counseling is attempted for a period of time and no change is experienced AND there is a co-occurring issue (e.g., depression, anxiety disorder, etc.), then medication may be appropriate.

Everyone is different, and every treatment program will be different as well. Contact us today to learn more about your options and get started helping your child.