Separation anxiety is when someone experiences extreme feelings of anxiety, fear or distress when leaving a loved one. On this page our mental wellbeing advisor, Marianna Kilburn, explains in more detail what this disorder is, what causes it and how it can be treated or managed.
Separation anxiety is when the sufferer experiences fear, upset or anxiety when having to leave home or parting from a specific person. While many people feel sad at the thought of having to leave their close friends and family, someone suffering from separation anxiety will experience a greater degree of anxiety symptoms than the situation really deserves.
Sometimes separation anxiety can cross over into something called separation anxiety disorder. This complex and disabling condition gives rise to more intense feelings of anxiety when separating from a loved one.
There is no one single cause for separation anxiety and the problem is thought to arise as a result of a number of factors. Natural shyness can cause a person to be unwilling to reach outside their comfort zone, particularly if this means going to new places or meeting new people.
There are also some parenting traits which are thought to increase the likelihood of separation anxiety in children, including being over-protective. This leads to the child becoming too dependent on one or two people.
Separation anxiety generally diminishes with age. However, it can develop into other forms of anxiety, including anxiety attacks or social anxiety.
Most children ‘grow out’ of separation anxiety. However, while still experiencing the symptoms, it can be distressing for both child and parent. Seek help if separation anxiety in your child is disruptive and affects other family members.
Symptoms may persist into adulthood in a variety of shapes and forms. If this is the case with you, it may be worth visiting your doctor or considering treatments, particularly if it is beginning to interfere with your personal life or career.
There are a range of treatments which may help with this problem. Often, it is worth looking for a psychological therapy or herbal remedy first as the side-effects of conventional medicines can present their own problems.
Talking therapies are effective in allowing the person to release their emotions and then have their thoughts guided by a medical professional. Having an external insight into your feelings and emotions often allows a rational view on the matter. It can also show you how small changes in your life can help
There is a range of herbal remedies to help ease symptoms of anxiety. These have been used by herbalists for many years. Valerian, once used as a scent for perfume, is now popular as a natural tranquiliser, calming the nerves and relieving symptoms of anxiety. It can be found in licensed herbal remedies such as Stress Relief Daytime. Similarly, Avena sativa, more commonly known as oats, has been used as a nerve tonic for hundreds of years.
If self-help treatments, psychological therapies and herbal remedies have not helped you, it is important to speak to your doctor as you may be experiencing separation anxiety disorder, or a form of depression. Your doctor will discuss your symptoms with you, and decide on a treatment plan. This may include conventional medicines such as mild sedatives or anti-depressants.
Marianna works in central London as a Trainer and In Store Health Adviser for A Vogel. She is also a Practitioner Life Coach with both personal and professional experience in stress management. She has a passion for helping people tap into their inner wisdom and maximise their potential for good health. Marianna’s aim, in these pages, is to share tools and tricks for well-being and encourage a search for personal solutions to life’s challenges.
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