What Is Separation Anxiety and What Causes My Child To Have It?

How do you know if your child has separation anxiety? Well, there are many ways to tell based on the symptoms your child is experiencing. Separation anxiety is having a great fear of being distanced from your parents or caregiver. Both children and adults can experience separation anxiety.

Separation Anxiety Defined

Separation anxiety is the feeling of being worried or uneasy. It is common in smaller children but can affect children of all ages, including adults. Separation anxiety usually begins at the age of eight months in infants. Babies that experience separation anxiety as infants will be afraid of being in front of individuals they have never seen before. If their parents are not in their presence, they will become uncomfortable until they return. However, toddlers do realize that once their parents or caregiver leave, he or she will come back.

Separation anxiety can extend past the age of two in toddlers. While having anxiety is common, having drastic fear is considered a disorder.

Causes of Separation Anxiety

What is the cause of separation anxiety in children? Many times, it can be hereditary, which means that someone else has experienced the same anxiety. Additionally, children can develop separation anxiety from other things such as being adopted or put into foster care, changing schools, one or both parents not being around, parents that have divorced, or even from a recent passing in the family.

Children who experience separation anxiety may not want to be left alone and always worry about that. They may also be scared of being kidnapped or afraid that something devastating will occur to a loved one in the family while they are gone. Children also follow their caregivers or parents around the home when they are afraid of being separated from them. It is also normal for children experiencing separation anxiety to have panic attacks or even withdraw from others.

Diagnosing & Treating Separation Anxiety

A physician can do many tests to determine whether a child is experiencing separation anxiety. They may also simply just pay attention to the way your child behaves. The doctor may also ask questions regarding your child’s history of anxiety and the symptoms they are experiencing. Your child’s doctor will also want to know the length of time they have been experiencing these symptoms. For a doctor to officially diagnose your child with separation anxiety, the child must have experienced the symptoms for at least one month.

CBT, also known as cognitive behavioral therapy, can be used to treat separation anxiety in children. CBT educates children on ways they can deal with their feelings of being afraid. When your child feels scared, they can use these different methods to cope with their anxiety. Antidepressants can also be prescribed only if your child’s condition is alarming. Antidepressants can help children deal with the symptoms they experience from separation anxiety