Separation Anxiety Disorder

Separation Anxiety Disorder

Separation Anxiety Disorder

Babies and toddlers can get upset and cry if they are separated from their parents and other caregivers even for a few minutes, which is a normal part of childhood development. Children usually grow out of separation anxiety by the age of three, so it only turns into a condition called Separation Anxiety Disorder (SAD) if:

    • Separation anxiety persists after this age
    • It is intense or prolonged and interferes with school and/or other daily activities

    Prevalence

    SAD is a fairly common condition that affects 3% – 5% of children.

    Symptoms of Separation Anxiety Disorder:

    Symptoms of SAD occur when a child is separated from their parents or caregivers, and SAD is characterized by anxiety-related behaviors such as:

    • Clinginess
    • Excessive crying
    • Throwing temper tantrums
    • Refusing to sleep alone
    • Unwillingness to go to school
    • Failing to interact with other children in a healthy manner
    • Physical symptoms such as headache and/or vomiting
    • Psychological disturbances such as nightmares

    Causes of Separation Anxiety Disorder:

    A family history of anxiety or depression, low socioeconomic status, overprotective parents, moving to a new home, and switching schools are all factors that can render a child vulnerable and at increased risk of developing SAD.

    Effects of Separation Anxiety Disorder on Family Life:

    The diagnosis of SAD is made by a healthcare professional such as a paediatrician or child psychologist/psychiatrist. The child will receive a psychological evaluation which includes a structured interview that involves discussing thoughts and feelings, as well as observing a child’s behavior.

    Treatment for Separation Anxiety Disorder:

    • Child-Directed Interaction (CDI) focuses on improving the quality of the parent/child relationship, which helps to strengthen a child’s feeling of safety.
    • Parent-Directed Interaction (PDI) teaches parents to communicate clearly with their child, which helps to manage poor behavior.
    • Cognitive behavioral therapy teaches children coping strategies such as breathing and relaxation techniques.
    • Medications are not usually used for the treatment of SAD. Antidepressants are sometimes used in older children with SAD, but they must be monitored closely for adverse effects.

    Symptoms of Separation Anxiety Disorder:

    Symptoms of SAD occur when a child is separated from their parents or caregivers, and SAD is characterized by anxiety-related behaviors such as:

    • Clinginess
    • Excessive crying
    • Throwing temper tantrums
    • Refusing to sleep alone
    • Unwillingness to go to school
    • Failing to interact with other children in a healthy manner
    • Physical symptoms such as headache and/or vomiting
    • Psychological disturbances such as nightmares

    Causes of Separation Anxiety Disorder:

    A family history of anxiety or depression, low socioeconomic status, overprotective parents, moving to a new home, and switching schools are all factors that can render a child vulnerable and at increased risk of developing SAD.

    Diagnosis of Separation Anxiety Disorder:

    The diagnosis of SAD is made by a healthcare professional such as a paediatrician or child psychologist/psychiatrist. The child will receive a psychological evaluation which includes a structured interview that involves discussing thoughts and feelings, as well as observing a child’s behavior.

    Treatment for Separation Anxiety Disorder:

    • Child-Directed Interaction (CDI) focuses on improving the quality of the parent/child relationship, which helps to strengthen a child’s feeling of safety.
    • Parent-Directed Interaction (PDI) teaches parents to communicate clearly with their child, which helps to manage poor behavior.
    • Cognitive behavioral therapy teaches children coping strategies such as breathing and relaxation techniques.
    • Medications are not usually used for the treatment of SAD. Antidepressants are sometimes used in older children with SAD, but they must be monitored closely for adverse effects.
    Source KIDS HEALTH