Separation anxiety disorder: Its prevalence among adults

Separation anxiety disorder: Its prevalence among adults

Separation anxiety disorder is a common anxiety disorder mostly seen in children, especially, in toddlers and children under four years of age. As the name suggests, the condition occurs when children experience separation from their parents or primary caregivers. The thought of their parents going away from them induces a fear and feeling of insecurity in children. As a result, they become anxious and exhibit symptoms like crying, clinging, or screaming.

Though the disorder is more prevalent among young children, studies suggest that adults may also suffer from separation anxiety disorder. According to an old study done by M. Katherine Shear, professor of psychiatry at Columbia University and her team, nearly 6.6 percent of American adults are likely to suffer from this anxiety disorder during their lifetime. The researchers also highlighted that the occurrence rate of separation anxiety among adults is higher than the existing rate of children experiencing this disorder in the United States. Lifetime prevalence estimates of childhood separation anxiety are 4.1 percent in the country.

Adult separation anxiety (ASA) is same as the disorder seen among young children. As far as adults are concerned, it may occur when an individual experiences separation from his beloved or dear ones, such as spouse, partner, siblings, friends, and pets. An adult is susceptible to suffer from the disorder at any age or any point in life. However, a study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry in 2015 titled “Pediatric-Onset and Adult-Onset Separation Anxiety Disorder Across Countries in the World Mental Health Survey” says, “almost 45 percent of lifetime separation anxiety first manifests in adulthood without a history of juvenile separation anxiety.”

Symptoms of adult separation anxiety

The symptoms of ASA in adults are similar to those commonly seen in children with separation anxiety. Feeling distressed when moved away from the loved one, extremely anxious of doing things alone without the loved one, avoiding situations where the person might find himself alone, constant fearing and worried about the loved one leaving soon are some the common symptoms exhibited by adults suffering from separation anxiety disorder. Besides, many people also experience sleepless nights and a constant fear of something wrong happening to the loved one, in the absence of the latter.

It is pertinent to note that since the functioning of an adult brain is much advanced than a young brain, adults tend to exhibit separation anxiety in different manners. However, severe distress and constant fear or worry remain common signs of the disorder, irrespective of age.

Occurrence of separation anxiety disorder in adults

Studies suggest that children who have experienced separation anxiety during their juvenile years tend to pursue anxiety-free lives during their adulthood. However, the children who do not experience the disorder are more likely to experience separation anxiety as adults.

In case of children, separation anxiety tends to go away with time, but with adults it prevails. Further, while in children, separation anxiety has been noticed to strengthen the bond between the child and the caregiver, with adults, the disorder can lead to more severe chronic mental issues.

In most of the cases, adults tend to experience separation anxiety between 30-44 years of age. However, recent diagnostic trends suggest that many adults between 19-29 years also experience it. While adults of age between 45-59 years are less likely to get affected by the debilitating disorder, its occurrence is fairly rare in adults of age 60 years and above, studies state.

Treating separation disorder

Many people mistake the symptoms of separation anxiety with those of general anxiety. Adults showing symptoms, such as distress and constant worry about loved ones should be taken for a proper diagnosis to identify the presence of the disorder. Such people need immediate medical attention as an untreated condition can lead to severe damage of the mental health.

If you or your loved one is grappling with an anxiety disorder, contact the Anxiety Treatment Centers of California to know about various anxiety disorders treatment centers in California. You may call us at our 24/7 helpline number 855-972-9459 or chat online to seek guidance on the best anxiety disorders treatment in California. Our certified representatives can help you to get in touch with one of the best anxiety treatment centers in California.


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