How To Deal With Separation Anxiety
Most of us are anxious about one thing or another, but anxiety is a mental condition where an individual worries excessively about a certain situation. In one such anxiety disorder known as ‘Separation Anxiety, individuals find it extremely difficult to bear separation from their loved ones, such that they can not even fathom the idea of being distant from them as it makes them severely anxious.
Although separation anxiety is largely associated with children and newborns, this condition is often seen in adults. Individuals with separation anxiety fear that something bad might happen to their loved ones.
If you or your loved one have been dealing with separation anxiety it must be hard to cope with it and more so if the anxiety is severe enough to cause hindrance in performing everyday life activities.
Before delving deep into how to cope with this condition, first, let us gain insight into what this condition really is and how separation anxiety presents in real life.
Separation anxiety is a mental health disorder that is often associated with generalised anxiety disorder, agoraphobia, or panic disorder. Separation anxiety is normal when present in the early days of childhood during the age of 8 to 12 months as it is a part of the developmental process of the newborn to become attached to their caregiver. The separation anxiety gradually fades as the child reaches 2 years of age.
When associated with babies, separation anxiety presents as crying spells, tantrums, and clinginess around the parent or their primary caregiver making it difficult for parents to go to work and associate themselves with other tasks.
However, when the symptoms of separation anxiety persist in school-going children and their teenage years then this condition is referred to as ‘Separation Anxiety Disorder’. This condition may require intervention if it causes significant impairment in the life of the teenager and affects his or her abilities to learn and grow.
In separation anxiety, the individual fears losing someone they are closely attached to. Adults who have separation anxiety are afraid of being away from people they feel comfortable and safe with. It is normal to feel lonely when our loved ones are away but when their separation causes significant distress and anxiety then it becomes a matter of concern and requires professional help.
Separation anxiety is a recurrent condition and the symptoms are present whenever these individuals are away from their loved ones or when they anticipate themselves being separated from their near ones.
Moreover, the symptoms of separation anxiety are spread over a spectrum. For some individuals, the impact of separation might be mild and hence they would present with mild symptoms whereas for some the separation might be more distressful, and hence they experience severe symptoms of separation anxiety disorder.
Following physical and behavioural signs and symptoms are indications of an individual dealing with separation anxiety.
Physical signs of separation anxiety include:
- Rapid heart rate
- A sensation of tingling in the limbs
- Feeling anxious
- Altered eating habits
- Difficulty sleeping
Behavioural signs include:
- Low mood
- Poor concentration
- Inability to make decisions
- Dealing with depression and anxiety
- Avoiding school, work, or outings
According to the DSM-5 criteria, an individual needs to have 3 or more of the following symptoms for 4 weeks to be diagnosed with a separation anxiety disorder. The list of symptoms is as follows:
- Distressing excessively before separation and during it
- Worrying excessively about losing the figure they are greatly attached to may it be parent, partner, or child
- Anticipating events that may cause separation from the attachment figure
- A constant fear of being alone
- Hesitant in sleeping away from the person they are attached to
- Hesitant about leaving the person they are attached to
- Having nightmares regarding separation
- Having physical symptoms of anxiety at the time of separation or while anticipating separation
Unfortunately, the exact cause of separation anxiety is not yet known but psychologists believe that this behaviour stems from an insecure style of attachment.
According to research, individuals with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are prone to develop separation anxiety. Moreover, individuals with other anxiety disorders such as social anxiety, generalised anxiety, and panic disorder are at an increased likelihood of having separation anxiety.
It is believed that hereditary factors have a great say in whether an individual develops separation anxiety or not. Individuals whose parents have anxiety are more likely to have separation anxiety as children.
Environmental factors play a significant role since individuals with stressful past events in life such as dealing with a loved one’s death or going through parents’ divorce, or those who live in a stressful environment at home are at an increased risk of developing separation anxiety. Overprotective parenting style can also result in children developing separation anxiety.
Easing separation anxiety disorder can be tricky but it is possible to control the condition. Whether you are a parent trying to tackle his or her child with separation anxiety or an adult dealing with the disorder yourself following are some strategies that can make it easy for you to deal with this condition:
- Learn everything about separation anxiety
Whether it is your kid or you who are battling separation anxiety, it is best to educate yourself on this matter so that you are able to view the condition better. After learning about separation anxiety disorder, you would know what to expect next and this will help you plan your next move to manage your or your loved one’s condition.
- Accept that you are dealing with separation anxiety
Admitting and accepting that you or your child have separation anxiety makes a lot of things easier in the future. It helps you look at things from a different perspective and enable you to adopt a compassionate and caring attitude towards the child or yourself.
- Practise a healthy relationship
Most individuals with social anxiety disorder have an insecure pattern of attachment in a relationship. By trying to overcome this pattern by working on healthy relationship habits one can improve their separation anxiety disorder. For instance, giving each other the desired space, and developing interdependence where both individuals work alongside each other
- Try meditation and yoga
Working out physically while actively engaging your mind can be a great way to combat anxiety and experts suggest individuals with separation anxiety do yoga and meditation to calm their nerves.
- Get professional help
You should not think twice before getting therapy or professional help for yourself or your child since it is the most effective way to overcome separation anxiety. Different types of psychotherapy such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) have proved to be of immense significance while treating individuals with different mental health disorders.
As a parent, it can be supremely tough to manage work and look after a child with separation anxiety. Although it is normal for the child to cry and be clingy during his initial months, it can fill you with guilt as you part ways and separate yourself from the child, leaving them crying frantically.
Here’s a list of things you can do to ease separation anxiety in your baby:
- Plan your departure after nap and mealtime as these during these times child is less susceptible to separation anxiety
- Be very calm and compassionate with your child
- Try to take your child into confidence and assure them about your return. You can even give them indications that you will be back by their playtime.
- Adopt the practice of saying a happy goodbye to your child every time you leave
- Practise leaving them and go to the next room. Initially plan a small separation and later you can go for a longer separation as the child adapts to your absence
When the symptoms of separation anxiety are progressing and you are not able to manage the condition at home then it is best to seek professional help. Your doctor or paediatrician can look into the matter and mostly medication and therapy are used simultaneously for effective treatment.
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
CBT is so effective at treating anxiety disorder that it is considered the first line to treat separation anxiety disorder. Through this therapy, individuals identify their behaviour and attitude that worsen their anxiety and this helps to eliminate the behaviour that results in anxiety.
- Anti-anxiety Medications
Medications such as SSRIs are great at treating anxiety disorders. However, they are not prescribed for the long term. Combining anti-anxiety medicine with therapy produces improved results.
- Support Groups
By joining support groups, one learns coping skills that are needed to combat separation anxiety on a daily basis. Also meeting with individuals who are going through the same disorder as your one can be encouraging and motivate individuals to tackle their condition effectively.
Ever thought of retreat and therapy together? Well, we have got you covered as we offer unrivalled care in a picturesque location to treat your separation anxiety disorder. Our high-end luxury rehab centre aims to tackle your anxiety disorder so that it no longer impairs your life while helping you recover into the version of yourself that you wish to become. At our premium residential centre, we strive to meet all levels of excellence as we provide quality care and cutting-edge amenities to make your stay with us an exceptional one!
Away from the distractions of city life, we offer you a private villa with state-of-the-art furnishings. Our bespoke treatment aims to help you manage your anxiety symptoms effectively. At our luxury residential centre, you are provided with a lavish room and a queen-sized bed with the finest beddings and a serene view from the window that will calm your mind and will help you rejuvenate.
Along with evidence-based therapies such as CBT to combat your separation anxiety we also offer a range of holistic therapies to mitigate your physical symptoms of anxiety such as yoga, meditation, massage, acupuncture, art, music, and equine therapy. Moreover, for your emotional support, a live-in therapist will be there throughout the day to facilitate you and maintain your emotional well-being.
Successful therapy helps you to monitor your anxiety rather than letting it control you and with our tailored approach and bespoke treatment facilities you will overcome your separation anxiety.
At our high-end rehabilitation centre, your privacy is our utmost priority since we deal with one client at a time. We provide you with a space that is entirely yours, and where you can unwind. We help you overcome your anxiety without the added stress of visiting the hospitals since you are provided with a top-notch team of medical professionals while you enjoy your stay at our five-star residence.
To make your stay comfortable at our premium luxury rehab centre we offer you leisure activities such as a swimming pool, a well-equipped gym, and a garden to help you make the most of your time. We provide you with a chef and a nutritionist who customise your diet plans, helping you recover better while maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
We are looking forward to your stay with us. If you or your loved one needs help with the treatment of any type of anxiety disorder in a high-end setting, we are just a call away!
At what age separation anxiety occurs mostly?
Separation anxiety is found mostly in school-going children and teenagers. However, some adults may also have separation anxiety. The average age for the onset of separation anxiety is 7 years.
Is separation anxiety more common in males or females?
Females are more likely to suffer from different anxiety disorders such as separation anxiety, generalised anxiety disorder, and panic disorder among others.
What percentage of the population in the UK have mental health problems?
Every 1 out of 4 people in the UK is likely to experience a mental health problem each year. In addition, 1 in 6 people in England, reported having a mental health problem such as depression and anxiety in that given week.
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