Separation anxiety disorder

Children with separation anxiety experience great distress in being separated from their caregivers. In order to be diagnosed with separation anxiety disorder, the child’s distress should be excessive for his age and also prevent him from participating in age-appropriate activities.

Symptoms include:

  • Worry about losing parents or other attachment figures though illness or death
  • Unreasonable fear of an event that causes separation (such as getting lost or being kidnapped)
  • Reluctance or refusal to leave home for school
  • Undue fear of sleeping or being alone
  • Persistent nightmares about separation
  • Physical symptoms (such as headaches or stomachaches) in conjunction with separation or anticipation of separation.

To meet the criteria for separation anxiety disorder, the child must have symptoms for at least four weeks.