Separation Anxiety involves excessive fear of separation from loved ones or attachment figures. Although it is more commonly seen in children, it can also occur in adults.
Often, Separation Anxiety involves fear that loved one/s will be harmed or become ill while away from the individual, or that the individual themselves will be harmed or become ill while away from their loved one/s. Separation anxiety can lead to a strong desire to be in the presence of attachment figure/s at all times (e.g., refusal to leave the house or allow the loved one/s to leave the house, refusal to sleep alone). It can also lead to nightmares and physical symptoms such as headaches and stomach upsets, when the individual is separated from their attachment figure/s (or when separation from them is anticipated).
Separation Anxiety can be debilitating both for the individual themselves and their loved one/s, as it tends to restrict the movements of both parties and can impede normal activities and functioning.
Treatment of Separation Anxiety will involve helping the individual identify their unhelpful thinking (e.g., the likelihood that danger will befall their loved one/s or themselves) and helping to develop more realistic thinking strategies. The behavioural aspect of treatment will involve very gradually helping the individual to tolerate separation from their attachment/s figures for increasing amounts of time.