Separation Anxiety Disorder: Signs, Symptoms, Risk, Diagnosis and Treatment


Separation anxiety disorder is customary phase of a child’s development. Babies in the bracket of 8 to 12 months are more prone to it, which then gradually fades away by 2 years. Adults too can become victims of it.  The adults who are victims from this disorder focus on their own well-being along with their children.

Separation Anxiety Disorder: Ultimate Guide

separation anxiety disorder

Signs of Separation Anxiety Disorder

Medical experts clearly find it difficult to outline a single cause of separation anxiety disorder. Based on research outputs, this disorder throw up some viable signs.

They are mostly physical in the form of anxiety disorders. Individuals suffering from separation anxiety disorder are prone to chemical imbalances in their brain. Neurotransmitters normalize your impulses and moods which are not being regulated in the brains of individuals suffering from separation anxiety disorder.

The signs of separation anxiety disorder manifests in childhood, but a number of signs reveal that adults are prone to it.

Symptoms of Separation Anxiety Disorder

Symptoms of separation anxiety disorder arise when children are separated from parents or caretakers. A mere fear of being separated can lead to anxiety issues. The common symptoms include

  • Performance in school not up to mark
  • Not keen to go to school
  • Experiencing anger bursts
  • Being emotional or violent at times
  • Nightmares
  • Fear of sleeping alone
  • Clinging on to parents
  • Crying on a severe level
  • Refusal to undertake things that need separation
  • Any form of physical illness like vomiting or headache

Risks of Separation Anxiety Disorder

 More often than not children are likely to follow victims of separation anxiety disorder

  • If there is a family history of depression or anxiety
  • Timid or shy personalities
  • Parents are overprotective
  • Economic status not up to the mark
  • Problems arising of dealing with kids in the same age group

Separation anxiety disorder could also arise due to a stressful event in the form of

  • Divorce
  • Shifting of your home
  • Switching of schools
  • A death of someone close


If your child has any of the above mentioned symptoms then he or she is suffering from separation anxiety disorder. Additional tests may be suggested by a doctor to confirm the same. The doctor would also want to interact with your kid as it may reveal whether the parenting style has any impact on your child’s anxiety levels.


Medication along with therapy is used to treat separation anxiety disorder. In both these treatment methods, a kid is taught to cope up with anxiety in a positive way


The common treatment of separation anxiety disorder is behavioural therapy.  Kids learn on how to deal with anxiety. Relaxation and breathing are common methods. Another medium of treating separation anxiety disorder is child parent interaction. It is segregated into three areas

  • Interactions as per child- Here the focus is improving the quality of child parent relationship. Praise, affection and warmth are involved. A child feels safe from inside
  • Bravery interaction- parents are provided education on why their children feel unsafe and anxious. A bravery ladder will be developed by a child therapist. It depicts varied situations that portray feeling of nervousness. For positive reactions parents are rewarded
  • Direction interaction for parents- here direct channels of communication are established between a child and parents. Poor behaviour can be efficiently managed.

School environment is another area that posters successful treatment. The child needs to feel safe at a place where anxiety levels do not get the better of them. Your child should be able to communicate with their parents when they are away from home for a long period of time.  The teacher should also encourage a child to interact with the other classmates. If you have any concern about the school of your child, then raise the issue with the concerned authorities.



No specific medications can be prescribed for treatment of separation anxiety disorder. If other form of treatments has not yielded the desired results, then antidepressants may be prescribed for older kids. It is not a straight forward decision and evaluated by the parents and their health professionals. If given, children needs to be monitored for any possible side effects

To conclude separation anxiety disorder emerges in the childhood phase and stretches to adulthood. If detected at an early stage, timely treatment would alleviate the symptoms, restore the normal functioning and foster relationships with their loved ones. Research points to the fact that nearly 2 % of adults face this form of anxiety at some point in their life. Another interesting fact is that women are more prone to separation anxiety disorder than men.