Separation Anxiety in Adults (The Cause & How To Cope)

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Upset coupleOften heard is the term “separation anxiety” when used in reference to children and pets, but seldom do we ever hear about adults who suffer from this debilitating psychological condition.

Note the data referenced throughout comes from the findings of research done by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine. They published a report in 2007 and this article was originally published shortly after. While most of the symptoms and treatments for anxiety in adults and children remain true to this day, some of the historical statistics in terms of demographics and may be outdated.

Article Overview

What Is Separation Anxiety?

Separation anxiety is most commonly recognized as a juvenile disorder in which children experience signs of anxiety when separated from their primary caregiver.

In more recent times however, adults have become increasingly diagnosed with adult separation anxiety. Adult separation anxiety is much the same as the disorder as that faced by children. However, the primary caregiver can be any major attachment figure in the adults’ life. Most often these attachment figures include spouses, boyfriends, girlfriends, siblings and or friends.

Children who experience separation anxiety during their juvenile years very often go on to live their adult lives anxiety free. Conversely children who do not experience separation anxiety during their childhood still have the potential to develop this disorder during their adult years.

Statistics On Separation Anxiety

According to the statistics, it is estimated that around 6.6 percent of the adult American population will experience adult separation anxiety during their lifetime – an amazing 20,207,408 adults. What seems strange when looking at these figures is comparing them to the rates of childhood separation anxiety. It is believed that only 4.1 percent of children within the American population will experience separation anxiety during their lifetime.

So in terms of the statistics, separation anxiety seems to be more common among American adults than it is among American children. It is believed that around 77 percent of adults suffering from adult separation anxiety experienced their first symptoms during adulthood.

What Are The Symptoms Of Separation Anxiety In Children?

Before taking a look at the symptoms of separation anxiety in adults, let us first look at the symptoms that appear in the more commonly studied manifestation of this disorder – children.

Children with separation anxiety may exhibit any of the following symptoms:

  • Extreme distress when separated from their primary caregiver
  • Reluctance to do anything that involves being apart from their primary caregiver
  • Nightmares
  • Constant worry that something will happen to their primary caregiver
  • Inability to go to sleep without the figure of attachment close by
  • Physical complaints that would result in the child not having to separate from their primary caregiver

What Are The Symptoms of Separation Anxiety in Adults?

The symptoms listed above that are often studied extensively in children are also commonly seen in adults with separation anxiety. Many times adults may label these feelings as mere generalized anxiety rather than being able to pinpoint them as being related to separation anxiety.

Some of the symptoms common in adults with separation anxiety include:

  • Extreme fear or anxiety when asked to do things alone or be separated from their attachment figure
  • Avoidance of being alone in any circumstance
  • Fear that the one they are most attached to will leave them or be harmed in some way

How Are Separation Anxiety In Children And Adults Distinguished?

Separation Anxiety In Children

The symptoms of separation anxiety in children and in adults may appear to be the same; however, there is quite a difference between the two. To begin with, these two manifestations of similar symptoms actually go by different names. Children who experience these symptoms are referred to as undergoing separation anxiety.

Separation anxiety is seen as a normal stage in the development of a healthy child, almost all children will go through this phase at around eight months old. Separation anxiety in children appears to increase in severity until around fifteen months of age at which point the symptoms begin to dwindle.

This video from the Parent Channel explains more and shows some examples of children with separation anxiety.

Separation Anxiety Disorder In Adults

Adults who experience the symptoms of separation anxiety are referred to as being affected by separation anxiety disorder; this is not a healthy phase in the development of the average human adult. Where for the child with separation anxiety, the disorder is something of a preserved behavior that enforces the bond between a child and its primary caregiver as is needed for survival; this is not the case in adults.

It is believed however, that the formation of adult separation anxiety disorder is growing in diagnosis as the importance of being in attached relationships during adulthood is increasingly emphasized.

 

The Demographics Of Separation Anxiety In Adults

When Does Adult Separation Anxiety Disorder In Adults Begin To Show?

Current studies have found that specific age ranges seem to be more prevalent for the onset of adult separation anxiety disorder. Adults that experience this disorder are most often between the ages of thirty and forty-four. The second most common age group for diagnosis of adult separation anxiety disorder is adults between the ages of eighteen and twenty-nine.

Adults aged forty-five to fifty-nine years old are less likely than their younger peers to experience this debilitating disorder. Finally, diagnosis of adult separation anxiety disorder in adults aged sixty and over is relatively uncommon in comparison to other adult age groups.

Men Versus Women

Research has found that significantly more women than men suffer from adult separation anxiety disorder. While more women than men suffer from this disorder, it has been found that more men are likely to have their first onset of separation anxiety during adulthood.

It has also been found that separation anxiety, whether juvenile or adult in nature tends to run in families. The majority of children who experienced the disorder in childhood had one parent who suffered from the adult variation of the same disorder.

Marital Status And Adult Separation Anxiety Disorder

Interesting research has also been conducted to analyze the marital status of those who suffer from separation anxiety. It has been found that those who suffer from any type of separation anxiety disorder are less likely to be married than those who have not experienced this disorder. Researchers believe that this indicates a correlation between childhood separation anxiety and bachelorhood or spinsterhood.

For those who have experienced some type of separation anxiety and still go on to marry, research suggests that their marriage will be an unstable one. According to the data discovered so far, individuals who are separated, widowed or divorced are most likely to suffer from adult separation anxiety disorder or ASAD.

The second most common relationship status among those who have ASAD IS to never have married. The least common relationship status found in those with ASAD is married or cohabiting with their partner.

Education And Adult Separation Anxiety Disorder

Researchers have been analyzing many factors when it comes to how they play into adult separation anxiety disorder. In addition to sex and marital status, education level has also been shown to play a significant role in the lack of diagnosis of this disorder.

Those with the least formal education (measured as 0 to 11 years of education) appear to be the most likely to have this separation disorder. Those with 12 years of education rank as the second most likely to have ASAD. Those with 13 to 15 years of education are significantly less likely to display with this disorder and those with 16+ years of formal education are least likely to have ASAD.

Employment And Adult Separation Anxiety Disorder

Because of the very nature of adult separation anxiety disorder, employment is another area of life that intrigues researchers of this disorder. Unfortunately, this research is often the case of the chicken before the egg or the egg before the chicken, it is not known whether employment status is caused by the ASAD or whether the ASAD was caused by the employment status.

In either case, the employment findings are as follows: the majority of individuals diagnosed with ASAD are unemployed or are working in non-traditional employment opportunities. The second most likely employment status for those with ASAD is being employed, the third is working as a homemaker and the least likely employment statuses are retired and working as a student.

Diagnosing Adult Separation Anxiety Disorder

A diagnosis of adult separation anxiety disorder can be difficult to make since it is a relatively new category of anxiety disorder. For the purpose of diagnosing this disorder in adults, mental health professionals turn to The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) utilized by the mental health community does not currently have a specific set of criteria for the adult version of separation anxiety disorder and as a result they turn to the diagnosis criteria for separation anxiety disorder instead.

The diagnostic criteria for separation anxiety disorder as per the Diagnostic and Statistical manual IV TR is as follows:

A. Developmentally inappropriate and excessive anxiety concerning separation from home or from those to whom the individual is attached, as evidenced by three (or more) of the following:

  1. Recurrent excessive distress when separation from home or major attachment figures occurs or is anticipated
  2. Persistent and excessive worry about losing, or about possible harm befalling, major attachment figures
  3. Persistent and excessive worry that an untoward event will lead to separation from a major attachment figure (e.g., getting lost or being kidnapped)
  4. Persistent reluctance or refusal to go to school or elsewhere because of fear of separation
  5. Persistently and excessively fearful or reluctant to be alone or without major attachment figures at home or without significant adults in other settings
  6. Persistent reluctance or refusal to go to sleep without being near a major attachment figure or to sleep away from home
  7. Repeated nightmares involving the theme of separation
  8. Repeated complaints of physical symptoms (such as headaches, stomach aches, nausea, or vomiting) when separation from major attachment figures occurs or is anticipated

B. The duration of the disturbance is at least 4 weeks

C. The onset is before age 18 years

D. The disturbance causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, academic (occupational), or other important areas of functioning

E. The disturbance does not occur exclusively during the course of a Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Schizophrenia, or other Psychotic Disorder and, in adolescents and adults, is not better accounted for by Panic Disorder with Agoraphobia

Referenced from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth Edition. Copyright 1994 American Psychiatric Association

What Is Life like For An Adult With Adult Separation Anxiety Disorder?

Describing life as an adult with adult separation anxiety disorder can be particularly difficult because of the extent of emotion that these individuals undergo. Not only does this disorder devastate the lives of those who have been diagnosed, but it also tears apart their relationships and takes a toll on the lives of those around them as well.

Someone suffering from ASAD lives their life on edge, constantly worrying about being alone and losing the one that they love. As nightmares take over an inability or unwillingness to sleep in combination with general anxiety will lead to exhaustion which in turn leads to a lack of functioning.

Individuals with ASAD feel trapped and often feel as though they are unable to do something, anything, until they have reconnected with their figure of attachment. Living with ASAD is exhausting and draining and often these individuals feel helpless as well as overwhelmed with their own level of being needy.

What Is Life Like Living With An Adult With Adult Separation Anxiety Disorder?

Being the loved one of someone with adult separation anxiety disorder can be just as exhausting as being the individual with the disorder. There is a constant demand for your attention that cannot be calmed or satisfied and often times it will feel as though there is no escape. Even the shortest respite from the clinginess of a loved one with ASAD will be interrupted by vies for your attention through text messages and phone calls.

Unfortunately, living with and loving someone with adult separation anxiety can be so taxing that relationships soon begin to break down. It is important for every relationship in which one or both persons have a diagnosis of ASAD that each person have their own support system. Support systems should always include a licensed professional who is able to work with the individual with ASAD to develop coping tools to reduce their burden upon their loved one. It is also important for each person in the relationship to have their own support system of family and friends.

Adult Separation Anxiety Disorder Is Not Always A Solo Diagnosis

Those individuals diagnosed with adult separation anxiety disorder more often than not also present with a second psychological disorder or at least a cluster of symptoms that fit the diagnostic criteria for a second disorder. Most common among those with ASAD are mood disorders and anxiety disorders.

It is also believed that individuals with a diagnosis of ASAD are three times more likely than those without the disorder to become addicted to illegal drugs. These individuals are also five times more likely than those without ASAD to have an anxiety disorder and four times more likely to have a mood disorder. One of the biggest questions to date in the psychiatric community in regards to the diagnosis of ASAD is whether or not the varying other psychological disorders often seen with ASAD precede or follow the ASAD diagnosis.

How Is Adult Separation Anxiety Treated?

Unfortunately for those who have been diagnosed with adult separation anxiety and for those living with those diagnosed, there have been no treatments targeted towards ASAD. Since adult separation anxiety is a relatively new diagnosis in the psychological community, not enough research has been conducted in reference to treating the adult variety of this anxiety disorder.

Simply because there is not a specific “cure” for those with ASAD however, does not mean that there are not options. It is imperative for those with a diagnosis of ASAD to first get themselves a psychologist in addition to psychiatrist in order to help themselves find a way of coping with this disorder.

How Can A Psychologist Help With Adult Separation Anxiety Treatment?

Where psychologists do not focus their attention on the prescription of medications to treat symptoms, they do focus on teaching coping skills. Coping skills are one of the biggest components in being able to build a functional life with healthy relationships despite an ASAD diagnosis. Therapy with a psychologist will allow those with ASAD to learn how to cope with their feelings and how to break free from unhealthy habits that make others feel overwhelmed.

How Can A Psychiatrist Help With Adult Separation Anxiety Treatment?

Where psychologists are unable to prescribe medications to help those with ASAD to manage their symptoms, psychiatrists do have that ability. While there are no drugs at the moment designed to target separation anxiety in adults, there are many generalized anxiety medications that are designed to help individuals cope with their high anxiety levels.

What Is the Future Of Adult Separation Anxiety Disorder?

With more people in the medical community recognizing adult separation anxiety disorder the future of treatment for this disorder looks bright. It is the hope of the ASAD community that as research into this disabling condition continues a better understanding will lead to the development of more targeted treatment plans.

Until such a day comes however, the best that the psychological community can offer is combination treatment plans. The current “best treatment” offered to those diagnosed with ASAD is the same treatment plan being offered to those with generalized anxiety disorders. A combination of talk therapy and medication therapy is the most utilized answer to ASAD at the moment.

Talk therapy gives those diagnosed the ability to discover why they have such difficulty with attachment and how they can correct their behavioral and thought patterns. Medication therapy gives those diagnosed with ASAD the ability to overcome some of their most crippling symptoms to try and make those bigger changes suggested through talk therapy. All in all the future of ASAD therapy looks bright, but for now, patients must make do with a generalized treatment.

In any case, we encourage anyone who is suffering from ASAD to seek treatment to help them on the path to recovery.

Additional Resources

Learn more about human psychology and mental health conditions including dissociative personality disorder and addictive personality disorder.

Do you or someone you know suffer from separation anxiety?

Disclaimer: The information provided through this website should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, you should consult your health care provider.
Amy grew up in England and in the early 1990's moved to North Carolina where she completed a bachelors degree in Psychology in 2001. Amy's personal interest in writing was sparked by her love of reading fiction and her creative writing hobby. Amy is currently self employed as a freelance writer and web designer. When she is not working Amy can be found curled up with a good book and her black Labrador, Jet.

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Bianca
I’m a 21 year old female who is coming to realize how prevalent separation anxiety was in my childhood, and how it’s making a comeback in my adulthood in my romantic relationships. My parents divorced before the age of 4, and my brother and I lived with our mother, while going to visit our father every other weekend. As I grew up, the experience at each house was highly contrasted: at home (aka my mother’s house), I felt cared for, loved, and protected by my mother. At my dad’s house, we were often physically and emotionally abandoned. I can recall times as a child, starting at age 5-6, when I would wake up in the middle night to check on my mother — to make sure she was safe, in her bed, and still breathing. (Side note: No wonder I couldn’t watch Bambi or Fox and the Hound as a child — the mothers die in the very beginning!) I can recall everything from waking up to walk down the hallway to crack open her bedroom door and listen for her breathing, all the way to walking up to her side of the bed and saying in a quiet voice, “Mom?” I needed the reassurance that she was actually there.

Then one night, my greatest fears suddenly became confirmed: she wasn’t in her bed. It must have been 3:00-4:00 AM, and I had opened her door after seeing the light on to discover that her bed was empty. I went through the house, looking for her, and thankfully had the intuition to open the front door. Fortunately, from that vantage point, I could see her standing in our driveway under the streetlight, probably watching a meteor shower. I went out to her and hugged her, my panic finally subsiding.

In addition to this, I was extremely attached to a stuffed animal she gave me when I was around this age. I can recall one instance of actually sleepwalking because I had left it in another room before going to bed and I couldn’t sleep through the night without it. I also had devised a scheme in the evenings when she would make her rounds to say goodnight to my brother and I: if she said goodnight to him in his bedroom first, when she came to say goodnight to me in mine, I could have her there for as long as I wanted, since she did not have another child to say goodnight to. It was a very selfish, needy scheme, I must admit.

Prior to the third grade, my parents decided to switch custody up on me one summer — I guess they thought it’d be good for me — emotionally or intellectually, I do not know. Lo and behold, it was not. Now that I was living at my dad’s house for the majority of the time and only seeing my mother every other weekend, this devastated me. I can vividly remember missing my mom day in and day out, counting down the days I could see her, struggling to leave her to return to my dad’s, feeling the most excitement and anticipation I had all summer when she once came to visit me (my dad’s house was only 45 minutes away!), and treasuring little cards and presents she gave me whenever I would visit. Little did I know, my subconscious mind was in a constant state of obsessing over when I would be reunited with her.

As I got older, my separation anxiety was further strengthened by the fact that my mom had a chronic autoimmune disease that would spontaneously land her in the hospital for a week at a time at least once a year, weak, dehydrated, and having lost a lot of blood. Again, another vivid instance occurred when I must have been in the third grade, when my mom was sick again. I was about to leave for school one morning and was going to say goodbye to her. I can remember standing in her bedroom doorway, peering in to see a mass of blankets, which my naive, child mind thought was her sleeping body, and suddenly being told my stepdad, who was leaving the bedroom, in the most matter of fact way that she had been hospitalized over night. I was devastated that this had happened completely under my nose, and yet again, my fears were confirmed: she was gone.

Eventually, into my teens, my separation anxiety involving my mother subsided. Perhaps it came with gaining maturity and craving independence, but I wasn’t really preoccupied with the same anxieties anymore. Now, as a young adult who’s been away at college for three years, I feel that enough time has passed to confirm that my mother is a stable figure in my life who isn’t going anywhere. I don’t think I’ve felt compelled to “check on” her for at least a dozen years now. Sure, I worry about her from time to time, but I don’t obsess over the next time I will see her, I don’t miss her profusely, etc.

Unfortunately, in recent years I think this separation anxiety has been redirected to my significant others, of which I have had two. Involving the first, I can remember one summer in high school when we both took very big trips with our families, and we were literally a couple thousand miles apart, when we were used to living half a mile down the road from each other. I needed to check in with her often, counting down the days until we’d be reunited, fearing that the worst would happen to her on a cruise ship out in the Caribbean, while I traveled in a car through the American Southwest. On the day we would be reunited, I recall fearing that something would prevent it: a hurricane at home, a blown tire, even a summertime storm cropping up on my side of the country was enough to send me into a spell of terror, fearful that I would never make it back to her.

Involving my second significant other, we were just a few months into being together when I took a two week service trip to Puerto Rico, and again found myself a thousand miles from my partner. I needed to call him every night, counting down the days until we would be reunited, and fearing on the three hour plane ride home that something was going to prevent me from seeing him again. Later in our relationship, I began to realize just how much I struggled with saying goodbye to him: the act of him leaving me, whether we had spent a few hours or a whole day together, was devastating. I would attempt to stall, whether that be through further conversation, tears, or holding onto him, and finally, when I could keep him with me no longer, I would kiss him like it was the last time I would see him, every time. I felt sure that some kind of irreversible harm was going to come to him between then and the next time we’d see each other, even though we only lived 45 minutes apart.

I wish I could recall a greater number of instances of separation anxiety manifesting in my romantic relationships, but it may take another 15 years for things to become as crystal clear as they did involving the separation anxiety in my childhood. Clearly it’s not something I have moved past, but I intend to work on it with my therapist. If you’ve made it this far through my novel, thanks for reading and I wish you luck!

Tia
Hey everyone, it’s safe to say that this article has answered a lot of questions. I have not been diagnosed, but I feel a strong connection to many of the symptoms.

I’m a 17 year old college student who 6 months ago got together with the woman of my dreams. Although there are a lot of things she isn’t happy with regarding herself, I still see her as perfect. Lately, whenever she leaves to go home or when I have to head back home, I almost always break down into tears. Mostly because of the fact that I won’t be sleeping by her side that night, but also maybe because it might allow me to stay with her. As selfish as it sounds, I have done it many times so that she will ask if I want to stay over. I try my hardest to keep the emotions inside, but sometimes they get the better of me. Sometimes it’s impossible to stay strong, and I fear that one day she will get tired of it and leave me. I don’t want to lose her, she means too much to me.

Ron
Hello,
I am a 34 YO male with generalized anxiety disorder, and I feel that I am a needy spouse who loves his wife to death but constantly demands her full attention. I have been married to her for almost two years, and we also have a 3 month old baby boy. Both my wife and my son are going away overseas for 4 months to visit her parents whom she hasn’t seen in almost 5 years. I understand that she has to do this, but I feel really sad thinking about how she will be away from me for 4 long months. I am crying and feeling down, while helping her arrange her trip. I really dont want her to go. I cant stay away from her for even a few hours. She is my everything and the thought of being without her for that long or for any period of time is just frightening. I fear for her safety. She is saying that me crying and being sad is making difficult for her to go, and she has even said that if I dont want her to go, she wont go. However, it will be unfair to her, so I have to be patient and let her go. I am worried about how I will communicate with her with the 10 hours time difference really bothering me. I dont go out with friends or do any activities. I dont want to either. I just want to be with my wife at all times and I do not know how I will handle myself when she goes.
Anna
My seperation anxiety is ruining my life. In my case it’s focussed on my family; mostly my parents.
I’m 35 years old and have been living with my sister for about 4 years. Who has had the same problem, which is why I came to live with her to begin with; she couldn’t be alone.
Now she’s “cured” of it, thanks to me helping her and she thinks it’s time for me to move on; she wants her house to herself.

The idea of having my own place terrifies me. Panic attacks, not being able to stop thinking about it, despair.

It has only recently been diagnosed by a psychiatrist. Step one is switching medication. My current ones don’t seem to work efficiently.
Step two is therapy, cognitive behavioural.

Rationally I absolutely know that all the fears and worries are ridiculous. But somehow I cannot control it. I can’t win yet.

What’s difficult is that no one understands. And I have never met anyone who even remotely understands from own experience.
Which makes me feel very lonely and stupid.

Should anyone on here recognise it somewhat, when it comes to struggling to live alone, I would very much like to hear it.

Michael
Hi my name is mick iam 60 years old been eitj my girlfriend 28years when she goes away even for a few days i hate it cant stand being on my own i get panic attacks so bad but the funny thing is we don’t even get on that well it’s just being by myself i hate it don’t get me wrong Iam not scared of anyone or anything iam no wimp i find this embarrassing
Jordan
I’m 23 and after attending college successfully for 3 years I had to take a leave of absence my senior year due to anxiety/depression. I managed to finish up my last year and now I am supposed to leave for grad school next week. Ever since that initial leave of absence 2 years ago I’ve had a very hard time with the idea of leaving home.

I’ve been crying a lot, not eating, had my medication upped, etc. I only just realized this is likely separation anxiety from my parents, especially my mom. I do see a psychiatrist but as I have less than a week left does anyone have any coping skills they can suggest once I’m alone in my studio apartment without my parents?

Tl;dr: my anxiety/separation anxiety as I prepare to leave for grad school next week has gotten bad enough that my parents and I are considering having me withdraw totally from school. In desperate need of coping skill suggestions other than positive affirmations.

Marie
this article explained so much to me about why I feel like I do when my boyfriend talks about leaving to go out of town. I thought I was crazy and irrational. Just last night we got into a fight about it because I couldn’t really explain to him why I feel so panicky when he talks about leaving. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one with these feelings. But I’m afraid if I don’t get help on learning how to cope with the anxiety that it might destroy my relationship.
Mollie-mae
Is it normal to have seperation anxiety from not seeing my boyfriend for almost a month?we are both currently 21 y.o. I have not been ‘diagnosed’ but I feel like I have ASAD for him.
Sadman
Hi Everyone,
I am a 61 year old male and after reading all the great info and posts on this site I am wondering if I am suffering from separation anxiety? My fiancé (20 yrs together)
moved 700 miles away to pursue a job opportunity. I must remain at my current location for 19 months, to which 8 have past. We now typically see each other after approximately 2 weeks. I’ve been feeling sad, depressed, anxious from the beginning and am about the same now. I even feel the same when we are together with the anticipation that she will leave. I have much trouble sleeping and have obsessive thoughts most of the time. Oddly enough, in the evening I start to feel relieve. But in the morning when I awake it’s the worst. My doctor prescribed an antidepressant but it did not seem to work. I am in the process of discontinuing them, under the advice of the Dr. I’ve experienced this same effect when I got divorced long time ago.
After all that my question is, am I a victim of separation disorder or am I just lonely? I was told that I am experiencing situational depression. I also have issues with what I call unfinished business. In other words when things are in the state of limbo, which I feel my current situation is in.
Please help me understand where I am and what I am facing
Thanks all for reading this!!!
maddalena
Hi Sadman,
I remember feeling something similar when my fiancé pursued an internship opportunity in a town 3 hours away. I have anxiety when I drive, so I couldn’t go visit him, and he would only come home on the weekends. This went on for a whole summer and it was awful. I don’t think you have ASAD, I think what you’re feeling is completely normal. You are obviously not pleased with being parted from your significant other and who would be? It’s not easy. However, I think you’re doing great. Since you’ve posted, another month has elapsed and soon you will be together again. My advice to you is to get some essential oils and use them, especially something calming like lavender and lemon. Amino acids are also great; you may consider seeking out a specialist in this area for some natural relief. Make plans for immediately after your beloved leaves so that you can get your mind off of her departure. Try not to borrow tomorrow’s trouble if you can help it. Warm baths and tea are good, too. I like piano jazz for relaxing when I feel anxious. Also, a reward system is good! If you love chocolate, treat yourself in the evening to reward yourself for getting through the day. All my warm thoughts to you.
Sandy D
Separation Anxioty in Adults I believe from personal experience stemming from loosing all my elders I knew and finding myself standing now being the elder for the younger ones in my family. I myself grew up with large family. Parents, 4 grandparents, 24 Aunts and Uncles etc. Not to mention Fur babies dying too, mine and family pets I was as close to as my own. I found myself emotionally spinning and couldn’t figure out why. I lost my dad 19 months ago, grandparents gone, and down to 8 aunts and uncles. Now my mom has cancer. While meditating I realized I was having separation anxiety. I feel grounded now, not spinning out of control since I realized what I’m feeling. I believe it’s normal even for us adults to have anxiety over loosing our elders, parents, no matter how old we are. If your bonded, connected, it’s normal. I believe like many things, theirs different ranges from normal/healthy to extreme/unhealthy. Normal stage is part of the grieving process, extreme is more then that. My brother states to me and my mom when she dies, he’s going too. Another reason for my anxioty. Support groups help for all stages. I believe I’m in the healthy range and my brother in the extreme range. No he won’t accept it and get help. I’m glad is being acknowledged as not only for children. Military families experience this every time their loved one is shipped out.
Kay McHenry
I have had this disorder since I was five years old and just found out I am not alone. I found a doctor who diagnosed me with a general anxiety disorder that is focused on social interaction and she prescribed me an antidepressant. Luckily for me, seeing a doctor along with the help from a few loving friends and family members gave me the strength to develop coping skills so I don’t panic constantly. I still have some trouble when separated from my husband for more than a few hours, but I can confirm that it is treatable.
Sadie Cornelius (Admin)
Kay, sorry to hear but glad to know it’s treatable and that you have found a way to cope with your anxiety! Thanks for sharing and hope you continue to find strength and comfort in your life!
Duha Almoamen
When I was a kid I was always afraid that I’ll lose my mom. I grew so close to her since my father started traveling for studies. I remember that at night I’ll watch her breathing, and I’ll sleep at her feet worrying about her.

And now I’m grown up in my 20s and every time I travel or someone I’m attached to travels away I tend to cry a lot. I had friends leave me which flipped my personality around. I became less trusting with people and there is a part in my mind that is always doubting.

I really don’t know what to do. I wouldn’t trust any psychiatrist easily so I just try to cope.

Jane
I am 57 and have just realized I have this disorder. I lost my father at 11 and even before that I would not sleep away from home. My mom even had to sleep in the bed with me. It has only gotten worse as an adult. My son and his family moved away almost two years ago and each time I am visiting them I struggle dreading the pain I suffer when I leave them. My husband and I spent a month with them and I was miserable. I believe it has to do with this separation anxiety. I do not spend much time alone. Run from that. Suggestions of what to do. I really desire for this to change. Tired of being miserable.
Sadie Cornelius (Admin)
Jane, so sorry to hear you are miserable! We recommend you speak to a professional who can help you find ways to cope with (and hopefully overcome) this disorder. You should also look for local support groups in your area that can be a healthy healing place to talk to other people who are experiencing similar feelings. Hope you get to feeling better soon!
Sasha
Is it normal to have separation anxiety from a child?
Sadie Cornelius (Admin)
Sasha, absolutely normal, especially if it’s your own child!
Amanda Carden
After reading this …seems to be true, me and my fiance have been together for a year and half and just recently he switch jobs from a day job to other job which is overnights. I’m used to having that comfort of sleeping next to him. I never went out a day with out it until now. I can cat nap during the day with out a issue but when it comes to night time by myself it’s unbearable. It’s a lot easier said then done getting over my Separation Anxiety and night time anxiety. I used to listen to his heart beat to put me to sleep or cuddle up watch a movie and pass out but I can’t. After two weeks at his new job he can probably get 1st shift which I would like a lot better but it’s all up to him. I know he is providing for our future. I have a difficult time adjusting to change and when a routine schedule gets all new again I’ve been to counseling in the past…doesn’t seem to help. I was doing fine until this big new thing. It’s difficult being alone during the night more then the day. I work days so I need sleep, but when I’m up all night now it’s difficult. It’s only been so far 2 night he’s been on the job. I just don’t think I can adjust to the fact he at work when it was our sleep time together. I keep remaining positive that nothing bad it going to happen. I don’t really live in a crappy neighborhood either. Well I have been living the same aptartment for 5 years. And during those 5 yrs I had a some break in attempts just can’t afford to move out. And before a lot of stuff happened to me as a child during night. Personal stuff. So when I’m without comfort I tend to dwell and cry because I hate being alone sleeping at night. I know it isn’t his fault and that he will come back in the morning after work, it’s just my own personal issue of night time anxenity and being not with him. I have the whole entire day with him after i get home from work and him waking up the evening dinner then once 11pm hits to 730 it’s a long time . I suppose the night would go quicker if I’m sleeping just can’t anymore. How to cope with the change for now? When your spouse works a difficult work week then I do and what I was use to.
Juan Y
I’m reaching out… I’m really going through a really really rough time now and I’m feeling extreme loneliness. I have had seperation anxiety for a long time but never sought any treatment or help. NO one around me knows except for my wife. In a few days, my wife will be leaving for a one week work trip to a country 20 hours flight away. An entirely different timezone on the other side of the globe. The thought of her being so far, and the thought that we can barely keep in contact (she’s asleep when I’m up, and up and when it’s my bedtime) scares me.

I know it’s irrational. It’s only 7 days and she’ll be back. But all those thoughts of harm and safety issues, not being there beside her to protect her, and me being alone in the house and not being able to tell anyone what i’m going thru (no one will understand) is making me lose it.

I go through this everytime she leaves the country – even for a day. I’m totally fine as long as she’s at home with me. Totally fine when she’s at work. I know she’s a short few minutes drive.

Expectedly, this is driving her nuts…. And I’m going nuts and almost cannot hold it together at work simply knowing that in 3 days, she’ll be on a plane for 20 hours – with no possibility of contact with her… And then for the next 7 days after that, she’ll be so far away.

I’m not sure how to cope next week…

cyrel ocampo
Hi,

I’m Cy 25 years old from Philippines and I have been observing myself before I read this article and after reading this I finally figured out why I’m having nightmares when I am sleeping alone. I was in a 3 year relationship and we just broke few months ago and before we broke up I was scared of being alone so what I did was I dated the girl that I am dating right now because my nightmares are getting worst, I cant sleep at night or the maximum hours of sleep that I get is less than 4 hours when I sleep alone, I always have nightmares…I don’t know what to do, not sure with who to seek, please help me.

Sadie Cornelius (Admin)
Cyrel, so sorry to hear you are experiencing trouble sleeping due to your break up! I would see if you can find a doctor or physiologist in your area in the Philippines who can help diagnosis your sleeping problem and prescribe some solutions for you. There are other natural remedies to help you sleep at night including taking non-addictive melatonin and putting lavender scented spray or oils on your pillow at night also helps. Good luck and best wishes to you in your path to happiness!
Shelly
I am a stay at home mother of 4, the 3 older ones have moved out and it’s just the youngest at home. I have found myself wanting to spend every minute I can with him. So afraid of the empty nest syndrome. I turned down good job because I wouldn’t be home with my son after school. I also find myself latching onto my husband when my son is not home. The anxiety when either leaves is overwhelming. I did not have any of these feeling with my other 3…What can I do to relieve the anxiety?
Kaleb
As a kid going to school was hard for me. i would cry and go see the nurse so I could go home every day… then it was because I wanted to be close to my mother. I remember feeling my heart race and my stomach turn…loss of appetite, and a foggy mind set. All the same feelings I feel today (I’m 26) when my fiance fight or when I leave home on vacation… I can barely handle three days gone. When I was 22 My parents disowned me for being Gay. I was a mess…I found a love that I stuck too … but when he cheated on me (24).. I barely held it together.. the pain hurt soooo much … every morning i would run to the toilet and dry heave for what seemed like for ever…heart beating out of my chest. I went from being 200lbs to 175 in three weeks. Now I have a fiance and I’m afraid to let him go … I can tell its super stressful for him too ….I just don’t want to lose him and it brings me to tears just thinking about it. I just don’t want to feel this way anymore … if I don’t get a hold of my emotions I feel like I’m going to lose everything….
Rajen Krishna
I think I still suffer from this, it must have been somewhere in my childhood, it’s very heartbreaking on my end to see people leave, but I’ve dealt with impermanence my whole life, so the topic of marriage or love is something I can’t really handle and evade most of the time. I really hope someday I will get past my fears.
Andrew Laidlaw
I wonder if a couple each with ASAD are more helpful and able to help meet each other’s needs?
Juan Y
Chances of that are really low. And I think it might make things worse. Meanwhile, it’s tough enough to even know anyone who understands who it feels like and won’t say things like “can’t you just stop feeling this way?”

It’s funny how when my wife is a way, the entire week feels like eternity… And I have no idea on how to find a cooing mechanism. I’m.literally going nuts and she hasn’t even boarded her flight yet…

Toni
For me, it’s extremely helpful having the 2 of us suffer ASAD together!! I feel blessed to have met someone so similar to myself.
Sadie Cornelius (Admin)
Andrew, so glad to hear you have someone who can help you with the grieving process! Best wishes to you both!
jan
I’m 58 and have had this disorder for many many years, recently I have noticed a sheer panic at the thought of my partner not coming home or going out with friends I have no idea why but it festers and I stay awake all night long. I try very hard not to let him know how I’m feeling but omg is very hard not to scream at times. I have all the trust in the world for him I know he is not cheating or anything like that so have no reason whatsoever to feel this way. Several times I have decided to end the relationship rather than feel this way, am close to it but love him so very much, feeling like this though is not fair to him or to me.
Amanda Danielle
I have had separation anxiety my whole life. I had it as a child and still suffer from it as an adult. I was not given a diagnosis until a few years ago.

My separation anxiety has gotten better over the years. It used to be if a loved one so much as did something without me, I would be sad and hurt. My parents divorced when I was very young. I had alternating weekends with my dad. It was my mom who raised me. If she did anything without me, I would have a meltdown and be inconsolable. I would become physically ill over it, even in my teen years. She noticed this in me from a very young age, and pretty much didn’t do anything without me.
As an adult, I have more of a handle on it. When my mom goes out of town, I feel the need to check in on her, and have her text me when she gets to her destination.

When a loved one goes out of town, I still have meltdowns, but not as bad as when I was a child. I still cry a lot, and sometimes feel ill, but have not actually got sick about it in a few years. I am able to recognize what I am experiencing, and can calm myself down pretty quick. I have not been able to prevent it all together though.

I did suffer from clinical depression and still suffer with general anxiety.

Hollie Bonham
This really resonates with me. My father left my family when I was 5 and ever since have had ongoing anxiety or depression in one form or another. Now I am with my partner of three years and have constant fear that one of us will leave the other. I am happy to know that this isn’t just general anxiety.
Andrew
I was battered by my mother and taken off her by social services when I was 5 weeks old. I went to a couple of foster homes but settled in one long term when I was 9 months old. I used to stay with my paternal grandfather every weekend to give the foster parents a break and I had such a lovely bond with him, I really loved him.

Unfortunately, he died just before my fourth birthday and I did not really understand where he had gone. After a few months of not seeing him I began sucking my thumb and wetting the bed and I was terrified of being alone (which is textbook separation anxiety). In order to cope I developed maladaptive behavior patterns which shut everything down, I simply stopped feeling.

In 2003 at age 29 I began working on my emotions in therapy but i was still not aware of the extent to which I was emotionally wounded by being separated from my mother until I had a breakdown in 2007.

Losing my grandfather was simply a recapitulation of the original wound because although he was my grandfather I was bonded to him in a way I should have been bonded to my biological mother. Since then I can see that this missing piece of not being wanted by my mother caused me to internalize much shame, guilt and fear of abandonment as if I had done something wrong and as If I was to blame for my mothers unhappiness and as if I was unworthy of love which in turn caused an existential crisis and anxiety.

Of course I forgive my mother but these patterns that are so deeply embedded in the psyche simply do not change overnight, it takes a lot of work to heal the mind, body ,emotions and spirit, to heal the ancestry, cellular memory and the inner archetypes. I find that I need a lot of support these days and I get the most out of therapists who have experience in dealing with bonding and attachment issues as these seem to be the only people that really get what I am talking about.

Anonymous
I’m 26 and my partner is 35. He has had issues in the past with his fiancée cheating on him, being thrown out of his parents house for being with her before it then broke down, and was recently divorced from a 9 year relationship. Although I am doing all I can to be supportive and reassuring and I love him with all my soul it never seems to be enough. The UK seems to have no recognition of this as a disorder and I’m so glad it is actually “a thing” I thought perhaps there was something wrong with me and I think so did he for not feeling like he does or that I just don’t love him enough. I have a degree in psychology myself so recognized it was not healthy behavior and I want to do all I can to help him but it is putting a lot of stress on me and sometimes I feel helpless/trapped or just utterly useless. How can I go about getting him help without him feeling like I’m pushing him away or calling him crazy (which is what he’s most likely to interpret it as)?
Peter Kimpton
I’m in a similar situation to your husband – I have separation anxiety, just working it out at the moment but I think it stems from 2 previous partners cheating on me then ending our relationship, and my wife of now 8 years cheated on me 2 years into our relationship, 3 before we got married. Anyway – the point is – I know how your partner feels. The approach I would appreciate would be this: say something to him like: “I really like (or love) you. I’m not going anywhere. But I’m recognizing that the experience you’ve had with your past relationship may have scarred you more than you realize, and the anxiety that you feel for me & attachment for me is going to be unhealthy for us in the long run. I think we should see someone about it so that our relationship doesn’t crumble under that pressure.” Don’t let him get defensive, stay calm, and if he agrees to look into it, look into finding the psych and research it together – doing it for him will make him feel like you’ve done it “behind his back.”
Juan Y
HI Peter. I’m reaching out to a support group as I’m really going through a really really rough time now and I’m feeling extreme loneliness. In a few days, my wife will be leaving for a one week work trip to a country 20 hours flight away. An entirely different timezone on the other side of the globe. I know it’s irrational. It’s only 7 days and she’ll be back. But all those thoughts of harm and safety issues, not being there beside her to protect her, and me being alone in the house and not being able to tell anyone what I’m going thru (no one will understand) is making me lose it. I go through this every time she leaves the country – even for a day. I’m totally fine as long as she’s at home with me. Totally fine when she’s at work. I know she’s a short few minutes drive. Expectingly, this is driving her nuts…. And I’m going nuts and almost cannot hold it together at work simply knowing that in 3 days, she’ll be on a plane for 20 hours – with no possibility of contact with her… And then for the next 7 days after that, she’ll be so far away.

I’m not sure how to cope next week…