Separation Anxiety


Separation Anxiety happens when there is excessive fear or worry about separation from home or an attachment figure. This is a normal stage in an infant’s development as it can help children understand relationships and understand their environments, however this typically ends around 2 years of age. Separation anxiety thus occurs when the anxiety present exceeds what might be expected at that development level. When separation happens children may seem withdrawn, sad, have difficulty concentrating on work or play. They could be afraid of animals, monsters, the dark, burglars, kidnappers, plan travel or other situations perceived as dangerous. Some people become severely homesick when separated regardless of age and can often lead to conflict within the family.


· Excessive distress when separated from the home or attachment figures

· Worry about losing or harm coming to major attachment figures

· Excessive worry about experiencing an unexpected negative event (such as getting lost or becoming ill) that leads to separation from attachment figures.

· Persistent fear of being alone or without attachment figures at home. This could look like clinging behavior or staying close to attachment figure around the house.

· Refusal to sleep away from home or go to sleep without attachment figure nearby

· Nightmares involving themes of separation from home or attachment figures

· Repeated physical complaints such as headaches and nausea when separation has occurred or is anticipated.

Additional Resources

Article – How to Ease Your Child’s Separation Anxiety

Separation Anxiety in Adults

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