Separation Anxiety

You have probably heard of separation anxiety. Your child or a child you know may have found it difficult being away from their parent, it may have caused problems for them going to nursery or school. It may be something you feel is a normal part of growing up and becoming used to being more independent and some children just take longer than others.

Did you know though that it can still apply to adults?

For both adults and children, the diagnostics criteria are the same, but for adults the symptoms have to be persistent for a longer period of time. Typically, it is 4 weeks or more for children and 6 months or more for adults.

For adults, the symptoms may have been something that began in childhood and weren’t addressed but more often they are not. I’ve found a study that says approx. 77% of adults developed it in adulthood.

They can still be anxious about separation from a parent figure or caregiver, for example finding it difficult to take the steps needed to leave home and live alone for the first time. It can also though be about separation from a partner or even from their own child who may have moved away.

Exploring the fears that these adults are experiencing and the way they are limiting their ability to function is key to treatment. They may be coming across as controlling, dependent or overprotective and it could be having a negative impact on their relationships. Working on the issues in therapy can help develop healthier and more fulfilling relationships.