Separation anxiety disorder

Separation anxiety disorder refers to distress about separation from home or from close attachment figures that is unusual for a persons age and developmental stage.

A  close attachment figure is a person with whom an individual has a social and emotional relationship, and often includes a parent, caregiver, or spouse.

Separation anxiety disorder is the most common anxiety disorder diagnosed among  children, ranging  from 1-4%, and an average age onset of seven years.

Risk factors for SAD include: a family history of anxiety disorders, trauma or loss such as illness or death of an attachment figure, life stressors such as parental conflict or divorce, and changes in environment like moving to a new school for a home.

It is diagnosed in individuals without another mental disorder.

Patients with SAD have three or more of the following symptoms on an ongoing basis for at least four weeks in children or at least six months in adults.

Distressed about separation from home or from major attachment figures

Worry about losing attachment figures or harm coming to them.

 Worry about events causing separation.

Refusal to go to school or work or leave home due to fear of separation.

Fear of being alone at home or without a major attachment figure.

Reluctance to refusal to sleep away from home or without major attachment figure.

Nightmares involving separation

Physical symptoms such as headache, nausea, vomiting, or stomach aches during or before separation from an attachment figure.

SAD in children can cause distress for the child and caregiver, increased worrying, social distress, sleep disturbances, nightmares, bedwetting, physical symptoms, poor academic performance and social isolation.

Psychotherapy, cognitive behavior therapy, parental training can provide children emotional support and independence.

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