Separation Anxiety Disorder

Separation Anxiety Disorder is rare and only inflicts 2% of all people. However, the disorder is more common at a younger age and as the individual ages, the disorder becomes less prevalent. Regardless, Separation Anxiety Disorder can have significant consequences if left untreated.

Separation Anxiety Disorder is characterized by an individual experiencing high levels of anxiety as a result of being separated from those that are close to them, usually caregivers. Generally, symptoms arise as a result of an individual moving away or being separated from someone whom that individual has relied on regularly.

Separation Anxiety Disorder is generally caused by various factors that include life stress, such as the loss of a loved one, change of schools, parental divorce, a move, as well as through genetics with heritability estimated at 73%.

Difficulties arising from Separation Anxiety Disorder

Functional difficulties with regard to Separation Anxiety Disorder are catastrophic and can result in complete avoidance of any activities outside one’s home. These include:

  • Fear or anxiety regarding going to school
  • Inability to work or fear of leaving the house
  • Not leaving the home
  • Lack of friendships or relationships, or nonexistent social life

Common symptoms of Separation Anxiety Disorder include:

  • Anxiety
  • Helplessness
  • Sadness
  • Nightmares
  • Fear of being alone

Treatments for Separation Anxiety Disorder

Treatments for Separation Anxiety Disorder vary but the most effective treatments are with Psychotherapy techniques such as Clinical Hypnosis, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) . Hypnosis addresses any traumatic experiences (such as being lost or separated from a primary caregiver), whereas CBT helps with cognitive distortions (worries usually) of what separation means for the affected individual. Neurofeedback can reduce overall anxiety to prepare the person for psychotherapy.