Separation Anxiety Disorder Basics


Separation Anxiety: What Is It?

Separation anxiety disorder is a condition that causes a child or adolescent extreme distress when she is separated from her parents or caregivers. Difficulty separating is normal in early childhood development; it becomes a disorder if the fear and anxiety interfere with age-appropriate behavior, whether it’s an 18-month-old who can’t bear to be out of sight of his mother or a 7-year-old who can’t tolerate a school day apart from his parents. Symptoms of separation anxiety disorder commonly become noticeable in pre-school and early grammar school, but in rare cases it becomes problematic later, in early adolescence. An estimated 4% of children have the disorder, which is very treatable with both behavioral and pharmacological therapies, particularly when it is caught early.