Separation Anxiety Disorder Symptoms

(Also Known As: Anxiety Disorder Symptoms, Separation Anxiety Symptoms, Anxiety Symptoms, Child Anxiety Disorder Symptoms)

(Reviewed by: Paul Peterson, Licensed Therapist)

What are the Symptoms of Separation Anxiety Disorder?

Identifying separation anxiety disorder in children can be challenging. There are certain factors that need to be considered such as their age, pattern, and duration of behavior. There are stages in the early development of a child where fear of strangers or separation from a parent is common, appropriate, and even expected. This behavior has its onset from 6 to 15 months. However, this is not a symptom of separation anxiety. 4

A child with separation anxiety experiences severe distress when apart from home or from people with whom they are attached. They often need to be informed about the whereabouts of their loved ones and are worried that something terrible might happen to them or their loved ones. Traveling alone can be an uncomfortable experience for them. The child with separation anxiety may show their reluctance to participate in school, camps, to visit, or spend a night in their friend’s house. They may refuse to be left alone in their rooms, or stay close to their parents in the house. 5

Having trouble putting the child to sleep during their bedtime is common. Children with separation anxiety may insist that someone should stay in their room until they fall asleep. They may experience nightmares, such as destruction of their family through natural calamities, like fire.

Severe separation anxiety can impede the normal functioning of the child and is indicated by the following symptoms: 6

  • The child is reluctant to fall asleep without the presence of a primary attachment figure
  • Extreme distress when the separation event is close
  • The child with separation anxiety has nightmares related to the separation
  • The child either desires to go back home or get in touch with the primary caregiver when separated
  • They complain about physical symptoms such as stomach pain and palpitations

Could You Have Separation Anxiety Disorder?

Separation Anxiety Disorder Topics

Related Conditions

Anxiety Disorder NOS – pathological fears, anxiousness, stress, exhaustion
Dependent Personality Disorder – psychological dependence on others, submissiveness, dependency
Generalized Anxiety Disorder – irrational worry, anxiety, depression, excessive anxiousness
Social Anxiety Disorder – social phobia, fear of humiliation or embarrassment, abnormal distress, chronic fear