Separation anxiety is a common problem among adults, especially those who have close relationships with other people. It can manifest in different ways, such as fear of being apart from loved ones, feeling overwhelmed or panicked when separated, or experiencing intrusive thoughts about the other person. If you are struggling with separation anxiety, it can be difficult to lead a normal life. But there are ways to cope. In this blog post, we will discuss the causes and symptoms of separation anxiety in adults and offer some tips on how to manage the condition.
Defining Separation Anxiety
Separation anxiety is a type of anxiety that occurs when an individual is away from someone with whom they have a close relationship. It can be triggered by anything that causes the person to feel separated from their loved one, such as going to work, school, or even running errands. The key feature of separation anxiety is the intense fear or worry that something bad will happen to the loved one while they are away. This can lead to feelings of panic, dread, and helplessness.
In adulthood, separation anxiety can be difficult to manage because it can interfere with work, school, and other important aspects of life. It is also often accompanied by other mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety. It can also be a sign of some form of past trauma which was left unresolved.
Separation Anxiety In Adults
Although separation anxiety is typically seen as a children’s disorder, it is actually quite common in adults. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, separation anxiety disorder affects about four percent of adults in the United States. It is more common in women than men, and it often begins in adulthood.
There are several other theories about what causes separation anxiety in adults.
- One theory suggests that it is a learned response. This means that people who experienced separation anxiety as children may be more likely to experience it again as adults.
- Another theory suggests that separation anxiety is a result of attachment insecurity. This means that people who have insecure attachments to their loved ones (i.e., they are not confident in the relationship) are more likely to experience separation anxiety when they are apart.
- It is also believed that separation anxiety is a stress reaction. This means that people who are under a lot of stress may be more likely to experience separation anxiety when they are away from their loved ones.
Symptoms of Separation Anxiety
Separation anxiety manifests differently in different people. Some common symptoms include:
- Intense fear or worry about being away from loved ones
- Feeling overwhelmed or panicked when separated from loved ones
- Experiencing intrusive thoughts about the other person
- Avoiding activities or situations that involve being away from loved ones
- Missing work, school, or social events because of separation anxiety
- Having difficulty sleeping when away from loved ones
- Intrusive thoughts about the other person
- Difficulty concentrating when away from the loved one
- Physical symptoms such as sweating, racing heart, and nausea
It is important to remember that different symptoms may be present in different people with variations in frequency and intensity.
Several factors may increase your risk of developing separation anxiety. These include:
- Having a close relationship with someone (such as a spouse, partner, or child): This means that you are more likely to experience separation anxiety if you have a close relationship with someone.
- Being under a lot of stress: This means that you are more likely to experience separation anxiety if you are under a lot of stress.
- Having another mental health condition: This means that you are more likely to experience separation anxiety if you have another mental health condition, such as depression or anxiety.
- Having a history of trauma: This means that you are more likely to experience separation anxiety if you have a history of trauma.
An individual may develop separation anxiety disorder due to one or more of these factors.
Effects Of Separation Anxiety In Daily Life
Separation anxiety can have several effects on your daily life. These may include:
Interfering with work: If you are constantly worried about being away from your loved ones, it can be difficult to focus on work. This can lead to absenteeism, lateness, and poor job performance.
Affecting school: If you are a student, separation anxiety can interfere with your studies. It may cause you to miss classes or exams, and it can also lead to lower grades.
Straining relationships: Separation anxiety can put a strain on your relationships. If you are always avoiding situations where you will be away from your loved ones, it can make it difficult to participate in activities with them. This may lead to conflict and resentment.
Making it difficult to leave the house: If you are afraid of being away from your loved ones, it may be difficult to leave the house. This can make it hard to participate in activities outside the home, such as work, school, or social events.
Causing physical symptoms: Separation anxiety can cause physical symptoms such as sweating, racing heart, and nausea. These symptoms can be debilitating and may require medical attention.
All of these effects can make a person face depreciation in the quality of life in personal, social, professional, as well as overall life and well-being.
Although anxiety disorders or their types have no known cure, there are various ways by which one can manage and reduce the intensity of the symptoms.
Mental health professionals use various interventions and techniques to help people deal with anxiety disorders. Some of the popular types of therapy for separation anxiety include:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
One of the most effective treatment options for separation anxiety is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is a type of therapy that helps people to change their thoughts and behaviors. It is effective in treating separation anxiety disorder. In CBT, the therapist will help you to identify your negative thoughts and beliefs about separation. They will then help you to challenge and change these thoughts. The therapist will also help you to gradually expose yourself to situations where you are away from your loved ones.
Dialectical behavioral therapy
DBT is a type of CBT that is specifically designed to treat people who have a borderline personality disorder. It is effective in treating separation anxiety disorder. In DBT, the therapist will help you to understand your thoughts and emotions. They will then help you to manage them more positively.
Family therapy is a type of therapy that involves all members of the family. It is often used to treat children and adolescents with separation anxiety disorder. In family therapy, the therapist will help the family to understand the disorder. They will also help them to develop coping strategies. The therapist will also help the family to expose the child or adolescent to situations where they are away from their loved ones. This will help them to become more comfortable with being away from them.
Another treatment option for separation anxiety is medication. Medication can be used to treat the symptoms of anxiety, such as panic attacks and intrusive thoughts. Medication can also be used to treat other conditions that may be contributing to separation anxiety, such as depression or substance abuse.
Several types of medication can be used to treat separation anxiety disorder. These include:
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
All of these medications help by reacting with your brain’s chemicals to improve the anxiety symptoms. However, if you are considering medication for separation anxiety, it is important to talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits. As psychiatric medication can have side effects and allergic reactions, it is essential to be in touch with your healthcare provider for check-ups.
Self Help Tips
There are several things you can do to help manage your separation anxiety. These include:
Identifying the Triggers
One of the first steps in managing separation anxiety is to identify the situations or activities that trigger your anxiety. This can be different for everyone. For some people, it may be being away from their partner or spouse. For others, it may be leaving their children with a babysitter or going to work. Once you have identified your triggers, you can start to develop a plan for how to deal with them.
Developing a Coping Plan
Once you have identified your triggers, you can start to develop a plan for how to deal with them. This may involve different techniques for different situations. For example, if you are anxious about being away from your partner, you may want to set up regular check-ins throughout the day or evening. This could involve sending a text message or making a phone call to let them know you are thinking of them. If you are anxious about going to work, you may want to establish a set routine that you follow each morning and evening. This could involve packing your lunch the night before and laying out your clothes so that you are prepared for the next day.
Learning relaxation techniques
This means that you need to find ways to relax when you are feeling anxious. Some relaxation techniques include deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and meditation. They can help you to cope with the physical symptoms of anxiety, such as sweating and a racing heart.
Setting realistic goals
This means that you need to set goals for yourself that are achievable. If you set goals that are too high, you will only be setting yourself up for disappointment. This can make your anxiety worse. Open yourself up step by step to be in control of your fears.
Challenging your thoughts
This means that you need to challenge the negative thoughts that are associated with your separation anxiety. For example, if you are thinking “I will never see my loved ones again,” you can challenge this thought by saying “I have been away from my loved ones before and I always see them again.” This regulates the feelings of hope and positivity.
Engaging in positive self-talk
This means that you need to talk to yourself positively. This will help you feel calmer and less anxious. It also helps to write down your positive self-talk so that you can refer to it when you are feeling anxious. You can also get positive messages and thoughts written by your loved ones to make yourself feel safe and grounded.
Develop a support system
One of the most important things you can do is to develop a support system of close friends or family members who you can rely on when you are feeling anxious. These people can provide emotional support and practical assistance, such as helping you with childcare or transportation.
It is also important to take care of yourself physically. This means eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly. Exercise is an effective treatment for anxiety disorders. It can help to reduce stress and improve your mood.
With strategic and effective use of the above-mentioned tips and treatments, one can manage the severity of the anxiety symptoms and lead a fruitful and quality life.
In conclusion, separation anxiety in adults is a real and serious problem. However, there are things that you can do to manage your anxiety. With treatment and self-help, you can learn to cope with your anxiety and live a full and happy life. If you or someone you know is struggling with separation anxiety, please reach out for help. There are many resources available to assist you.
You can consider availing Mantra Care’s therapeutic services if you are looking to begin therapy. We have a team of expert psychologists offering pocket-friendly and effective online sessions to assist and guide you with any troubles you might be facing. Contact us for bookings today!
A Word From Mantra Care
Your mental health — your psychological, emotional, and social well-being — has an impact on every aspect of your life. Positive mental health essentially allows you to effectively deal with life’s everyday challenges.
At Mantra Care, we have a team of therapists who provide affordable online therapy to assist you with issues such as depression, anxiety, stress, relationship, OCD, LGBTQ, and PTSD. You can take our mental health test. You can also book a free therapy or download our free Android or iOS app.