Anxiety Need Not Be A Life Sentence 8 - Separation Anxiety
As a Holistic energy practitioner I have had an awareness of the many clients and friends I have seen with ‘anxiety’ in many forms and recently I have been working on a ‘free’ anxiety program’ to allow those with ‘anxiety to take back control of their lives. I will be offering a series of short ‘blog’ posts on the differing identified areas or types of anxieties prior to the release of this program called The 7 Steps to Freedom so that if you or someone you love suffers from this often debilitating condition then you know that help is at hand
Is it Anxiety? My family have always been excessive worriers; maybe that’s what’s wrong with me?
Anxiety can be either a short term or a long term state of being. It may present as a concern or a worry about a specific circumstance in your life for example, a job interview, a test or an exam, or simply doing something with which you are not familiar.
In the long term anxiety can have a much more profound effect on your body and the symptoms or the frequency of the symptoms that you experience may be much more profound, and in these instances it can literally take over a person’s life due to its frequency or the debilitating effects that it produces.
I am going to talk about the different types of anxieties in this series of short blog posts and share with you some of the symptoms that are associated with the differing forms of anxieties and related ‘phobias’.
Anxiety can be classified as a disorder when the symptoms of anxiety become longstanding or ‘chronic’ and have an effect on our daily lives and our ability to function in our everyday life
Separation anxiety disorder or (SAD) is described as a psychological condition in which a person experiences excessive levels of anxiety regarding a separation from their home or from the people to whom the individual has a strong emotional attachment, this can be a parent, a caregiver, or siblings. Separation anxiety is most common in infants /babies and small children, generally between the ages of 6–7 months to 3 years of age. Separation anxiety is described as a natural part of the child’s developmental process. Normal separation anxiety indicates healthy advancements in a child’s cognitive maturation and should not be considered a developing behavioral problem.
In its deeper forms, separation anxiety disorder is described as an excessive display of fear and distress when a person is faced with situations relating to separation from the home environment or from a specific attachment figure. The levels of anxieties that are expressed in these instances are categorized as being dependant on the age and development of the child / adult. The severity of these anxiety symptoms ranges from anticipatory uneasiness of being separated through to full-blown anxieties about separation.
Separation anxiety disorder may cause significant and often overwhelming effects within the areas of a person’s social and emotional abilities to interact in family and social life, and the physical health of the person may be affected. The duration of these problems can persist right through childhood and adolescence through to adulthood
The estimate of the most common types of Anxiety disorders which are said to affect the youth of today, approximately some 5–25% of children world-wide. Of these anxiety disorders, SAD or Separation Anxiety Disorder accounts for a large proportion of the anxiety diagnoses. In fact SAD may account for up to 50% of the anxiety disorders as recorded in referrals for mental health treatment. Noted as one of the earliest-occurring of all of the anxiety disorders in children, adult separation anxiety disorder we are told affects roughly 7% of adults
Research suggests that approximately 4% of children will experience a clinical level of separation anxiety, and of that 4% it is calculated that nearly a third of all such cases will continue into adulthood if left untreated.
It is presumed that a much higher percentage of children may suffer from a small amount of separation anxiety, and are not actually diagnosed as such. Studies have generally found higher rates of Separation Anxiety Disorder in girls rather than in boys, and believe that the absence of a paternal or father figure may increase the chances of SAD in girls.
Separation anxiety can be common for infants from birth and may relate to ‘birth trauma’ and to in many instances to the outer energetic fields of the body ‘ not being turned on due to the individual process of the child’s birth, e.g., Caesarian, forceps delivery, or a long or short labor. These anxieties may become more noticeable between the ages of eight and fourteen months and occurs as infants begin to understand separation from their primary caregiver, e.g. Mother, Father or significant carer. Babies and infants look for their caregivers for a sense of comfort and familiarity, which may cause separation or the introduction of a different carer to become challenging.
They see this separation as something final though, and don’t yet understand that their caregiver will return which causes fear and distress in the child. It is when an individual (infant, child, or otherwise) consistently reacts to separation with excessive levels of anxiety and distress and these experiences create a high level of interference in their lives from their anxiety that separation anxiety disorder may be diagnosed.
Many infants and children can have a combination of separation anxiety disorder in combination with other behavioral disorders, especially generalized anxiety disorder. These can have effects such as a refusal or hesitancy in attending school or levels of homesickness for example.
The prevalence of co-occurring disorders or overlapping anxieties in adults with separation anxiety disorder is common. This can include specific anxieties and phobias, ‘PTSD’ (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and various anxiety / personality disorders. It is very common for anxiety disorders to overlap.
Separation anxiety occurs in many infants and young children as they are becoming more aware of their surroundings; children who have emigrated from another country at an early age may have a stronger tendency for developing separation anxiety as they have already been displaced from a location they were starting to become accustomed to. It is not uncommon for them to incessantly cling to their caregiver at first upon arrival to the new location, especially if the child is unfamiliar with the language of his or her new country. Whilst these symptoms may diminish or go away as the child becomes more accustomed to the new surroundings. In other instances the levels of anxiety may negatively impact the everyday life of the child.
Separation anxiety is often considered as normal in young children, until they age 3–4 years, when children are left in a daycare or preschool, away from their parent or primary caregiver, I have worked with a considerable number of very young infants who displayed high levels of separation anxiety from birth onwards
Some of the areas that are considered to be indicators of Separation Anxiety can include
- Recurrent and excessive distress when anticipating or experiencing a separation from home or from major attachment figures
- Persistent and excessive worry about losing major attachment figures as in parents or primary caregivers or about possible harm to them, such as illness, injury, disasters, or death
- Regular and excessive worry about experiencing an untoward event (e.g., getting lost, being kidnapped, having an accident, becoming ill) that causes a separation from a major attachment figure
- Reluctance or refusal to go out, away from home, to school, to work, or elsewhere because of fear of separation
- Persistent and excessive fear of or reluctance about being alone or without major attachment figures at home or in other settings.
- Reluctance or refusal to sleep away from home or to go to sleep without being near a major attachment figure
- Repeated nightmares involving the theme of separation
- Repeated complaints of physical symptoms (e.g., headaches, stomachaches, nausea, vomiting) when separation from major attachment figures occurs or is anticipated
- Distrust of others both children and adults
What stands out a most about Separation Anxiety Disorder, as mentioned above, appear to be the avoidance behaviors which present within the individual. Individual For example and individual may present with excessive distress manifested by crying, repeated complaints of physical symptoms e.g., stomach aches, or headaches, avoidance behaviours e.g. refusing to go to school, to sleep alone or in their own bedroom, to be left alone in the home, to engage in social events with others, to go to work, etc. Another behavior can be a need to be in contact with significant people and what are described as ‘safety behaviours, especially frequent calls to or from significant others, and/or primary caregivers and this can also be seen in some individuals as a mild form of OCD or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
Many Separation anxiety sufferers will often report the following symptoms:
- Muscle tension especially in the head and shoulders and back
- Physical weaknesses as in feeling as if you have not got the energy to do something or that your legs do not want to hold you up for example
- Complaints of headaches and often undiagnosed issues of ill health
- Sweaty hands or breaking out into a sweat
- Fear or confusion, these can be either one or both and may fluctuate
- Inability to relax this can relate to being constantly tense or on edge
- Constant worrying even when they agree that there is not anything to worry about
- Shortness of breath or feeling as if you cannot take a deep breath
- Palpitations or feelings of your heart fluttering which may be accompanied by shortness of breath
- Upset stomach as in feeling heavy or nauseous in the stomach, and may lead to reflux or vomiting
- Poor concentration or an inability to quieten the mind
- Poor memory or poor short term memory
These symptoms may range from mild to severe and be upsetting enough to make the individual feel uncomfortable, out of control and helpless.
*If in doubt that your symptoms are more than ‘anxiety’ please seek the appropriate medical advice.
Anxieties and anxiety disorders fall into a series of separate categories or diagnoses depending on the individual symptoms and the severity of the levels of anxiety the person is experiencing. The broad overview of the types of anxiety disorders I will be discussing in this series on anxieties includes.
3 OCD- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
4 Social Anxieties
5 Anxieties and phobias
6 Fear of flying’
7 Fears of things that walk crawl run or fly e.g. Birds, Moths, Spiders, and Cats.
8 Separation anxiety
9 Performance anxiety
10 Fear of Failure exams
11 Fear of Failure Business
12 Fear of death or dying
13 GAD general anxiety disorder
14 Post Natal Depression
15 Panic attacks
16 Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
In support of the ‘Free’ 7 Steps to Freedom program I have started a FB Community called Anxiety Need Not Be a Life Sentence at the link below. If this resonates with you I would invite you to please join us and be a part of this supportive community or to share the information with those to whom it may be of assistance
Peace Love and Light