It is not uncommon for young people ages four and older to suffer form a form of anxiety known as separation anxiety. If you have a child that suffers from such a problem, then read on. There are some things that you can do to help.
Typically, young people feel a form of seperation anxiety when they spend more and more time away from the family environment — whatever type that may be — in which they were raised. Being away from a primary attachment figure can cause people at least four years or older to feel some form of separation anxiety. A primary attachment figure may include a parent or parents, a caregiver, or other such figures. Feeling a sense of separation anxiety is fairly normal — except in very extreme cases that deter the person with the anxiety from living a normal life. For example, not being able to attend grade school as a child because of fear of being away from home is a severe type of seperation anxiety. On the other hand, though, being afraid of the dark as a child is not very severe and does not get in the way of living day-to-day life.
Seperation anxiety is a recurrent type of anxiety. It typically occurs over a time frame of about four weeks, at the least. A young person suffering from seperation anxiety often feels an enormous amount of worry, fear, or severe distress that causes them to become impaired from leading a normal life. This distress may take on one or more of the various forms: headache, stomachache, rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, and sweatiness.
Through research that has been conducted, doctors have been able to deduce that children that have a great amount of anxiety and are extremely fearful early in their lives often develop harder-to-treat anxiety disorders. For example, when a young child attends school for the first time, he or she may develop an anxiety from being seperated from a primary caregiver. If the anxiety does not go away within the first few weeks of the child attending school, and gets much worse as time passes, a severe anxiety problem is evident. This problem can effect the child doing well in school, making friends, and adjusting to life in general. A child with severe separation anxiety often has a very hard time controlling his or her emotions.
Children with separation anxiety often have a variety of symptoms. They may have a persistant worry about the well-being and safety of their loved ones. They may also show a large amount of sadness or dismay when separated from their primary caregiver. They may fall asleep easily if they are not around their primary caregiver. They may experience frightening nightmares in which they are separaed from the ones that they love. They may feel homesick, experience headaches, nausea, stomachaches, lightheadedness, dizziness, cramps, irregular heartbeats, muscle aches, and even vomiting.
Separation anxiety can be treated in a variety of ways. If the separation anxiety is not very severe, it can be treated with a little bit of therapy from a certified mental health professional. However, if the separation anxiety is very severe, the child may need to seek therapy as well as anti-anxiety medications. These medications can come in the form of SSRI’s (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) or MAOI’s (monoamine oxidase inhibitors). SSRI’s are a newer type of antidepressants that have very few side effects, while MAOI’s are older and have more side effects. What type of medication a child needs depends upon their individual case and body chemistry. Only a doctor in the field can determine what is best to take.