Understanding Separation Anxiety in Adults – Why It Doesn’t Get Easy to Say Goodbye?

Understanding Separation Anxiety in Adults – Why It Doesn’t Get Easy to Say Goodbye?

Separation anxiety is experienced by children who have a hard time saying goodbye to their parents on the first days of school. In some cases separation anxiety in children may become a serious condition because it can hinder psychological development and it could develop into a more serious anxiety problem later in life.

Child separation anxiety may also manifest in adults through the following symptoms:

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  • Getting attached to a specific person or people
  • Extreme worry about losing these people
  • Feeling anxious when thinking about separation
  • Complaining when separation occurs.

Why doesn’t it become easier to say goodbye? Normally, people will have a really hard time saying goodbye to their loved ones when they’ll be gone for a long time. But what if this difficulty separating develops into anxiety? Even adults may experience this and it is not a good sign. Adults having an especially hard time saying goodbye or being separated might be dealing with adult separation anxiety. What is adult separation anxiety? What are its symptoms? What can you do to deal with it? Here are a few things you should understand about adult separation anxiety.

What is Separation Anxiety in Adults?

Missing someone prompts people to maintain social connection. How people deal with coping with separation is determined by what scientists call an attachment system. But separation gets worse when an adult excessively worries and feels anxious about getting separated from his/her loved one. This is called adult separation anxiety. This condition was recognized as a diagnostic mental disorder in the 1990s. Someone who deals with separation anxiety often worries excessively about a losing a loved one. The person might even experience physical distress. The symptoms of adult separation anxiety may be similar those of separation anxiety experienced by kids.

How to Know if You Have Adult Separation Anxiety?

Here are the symptoms of adult separation anxiety:

  • Extreme fear or anxiety about getting separated from the people he/she has become attached with. It’s also manifested with full-blown panic attacks.
  • Fears that something bad might happen to their loved ones.
  • Sleeping problems or insomnia when they’re away from their loved ones.
  • Thinking of the worst case scenario about getting separated.
  • Repeated nightmares about getting detached from their loved ones.
  • Headaches, stomach aches, and other recurrent physical complaints when getting separated from loved ones.

If three or more of these symptoms occur in adults for at least six months, they can be diagnosed to have adult separation anxiety. If they really do experience adult separation anxiety, their condition hugely affects their social life, work, and daily life. However, their condition might not really be separation anxiety if they have other mental health problems such as schizophrenia, social phobia, or pervasive development disorder.

How Does Separation Anxiety in Adults Affect Daily Life?

Adult separation anxiety has a huge potential to destroy romantic relationships and marriage. If a partner repeatedly and excessively fears about his/her partner going to work or going about the day, chances are the relationship will get shaky. Reassurance is only a little thing compared to their partner’s excessive worry. Adults with separation anxiety will have a hard time sustaining healthy romantic relationships and for married adults, separation anxiety might lead to divorce and separation.

Underemployment or unemployment might also be a problem. However, it is not easy to determine whether this happens because of occupational difficulties or the disorder itself.

Adult separation anxiety also affects daily life if it’s manifested by physical problems such as stomach ache, headache, sleeping troubles, and loss of appetite. It greatly affects and even disrupts our everyday life, but is there any way to help us manage it?

What Can You Do to Manage Adult Separation Anxiety?

Adult separation anxiety was just recently recognized as a mental health disorder, so there aren’t many treatments to address it. However, there are few treatments that might help you deal or cope with it. The first important thing to treat adult separation anxiety is to recognize that you are experiencing it. Then you can help yourself and do the following that might help you manage your separation anxiety:

This is the same treatment offered to children with separation anxiety and might also work for adults. This is done by learning how to be alone and seeing it as a calming and relaxing activity for mental health. While relaxation strategies are practiced, some medications might also be recommended.

  • Recognizing Other Anxieties

People with separation anxiety often also manifest symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder or any other anxiety attacks. Treating other anxieties is a huge help to treat separation anxiety.

  • Seeking for Support Groups

Adults with separation anxiety can also seek help from their friends, family, and other social connections. This gives them additional support to people other than the ones they’re connected to. This will serve as their solid support group that will be with them for a long time.

Researchers, scientists, and mental health professionals should conduct more studies to understand more about adult separation anxiety and its possible causes, and find treatments that will cure this disorder.

Is this the best holistic method to cure your anxiety?



Adult separation anxiety might not be apparent at first but if the symptoms persist for at least six months, chances are the anxiety you’re feeling can be diagnosed as separation anxiety. Having this mental disorder might greatly affect your daily life as well as your social relationships. There is not much research about separation anxiety in adults but you can use some management techniques to cope up with it. The first important thing is to recognize that you have it and then you can adapt techniques or medications such as cognitive behavioral therapy, recognizing other anxieties, or having a solid support group. Mental health professionals are hoping that further studies of this anxiety will further enhance our understanding and find more efficient and effective ways of managing and treating separation anxiety in adults.

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