Separation anxiety in adults is an interesting concept. Most people attribute separation anxiety to children although this type of anxiety can manifest in people of all ages. Children often experience mild separation anxiety symptoms during the first days of preschool and more moderate symptoms during caretaker changes. The most severe cases of separation anxiety in children result from either divorce or foster parenting. Just as it does in children, separation anxiety in adults results from the intense feelings of depression and despair that follow divorce. Separation anxiety in adults often manifests the same way it does in children. A divorce can cause such severe and debilitating separation anxiety that it prevents the person from functioning normally at work, in relationships and throughout everyday life.
When Strong Emotional Bonds Break
We all possess strong emotional bonds. Among our strongest emotional bonds are the ones we share with lifelong friends and close family members. We also become particularly attached to our children and spouses. While nothing can replace the value of a strong emotional bond, there comes a point in every person’s life when even the strongest emotional bonds break. The people we were once closest to fade out of our lives and we simply lose touch with the meaningful relationship. The stronger the emotional bond between two people, the greater the risk of separation anxiety when the bond breaks.
When Marriage Turns to Misery
Marriage brings two people together in a magical way. Spouses often consider one another a best friend, confidante and someone with whom the person feels the most comfortable. Anyone who has been through a divorce understands the severe anxiety and apprehension that follows the permanent loss of a bond of this magnitude. The trauma adults experience from a divorce can become so severe that it results in an actual anxiety disorder. When marriage turns to misery, separation anxiety in adults runs rampant.
Detecting Separation Anxiety in Adults
Separation anxiety in adults can lead to the development of co-morbid conditions. Panic disorders, social phobias and clinical depression are all linked to severe separation anxiety in adults. Statistics also show that people with this type of anxiety are at an increased risk for illicit drug addiction.
While most people experience intense feelings of loss, anxiety and apprehension after a divorce, not everyone develops a full blown anxiety disorder. As a friend or a loved one of someone batting separation anxiety, it is important to make the distinction between regular anxiety and the type of anxiety that warrants the help of a mental health professional.
So, how do you know when separation anxiety in adults tips the scale from a feeling of loss towards a full-blown anxiety disorder? Be on the look out for the concurrent psychological issues that surface in a majority of people suffering from adult separation anxiety disorder:
- Excessive worry about the loss of a spouse
- Refusal to plan a life without the other person
- Interrupted sleep or nightmares that follow the theme of separation. Separation themes can occur in a variety of symbolic expressions
- Long bouts of crying
Adult Separation Anxiety Disorder Treatment
When separation anxiety in adults severely impacts a person’s professional and personal life, it might be time to seek the help of a mental health professional. Treatment for separation anxiety in adults may include cognitive behavioral therapy, medication or a combination of both. Just like any other anxiety disorder, adult separation anxiety disorder treatment is often best when administered on a consistent basis. Talk to your doctor if your separation anxiety has caused you or a loved one significant, life-altering anxiety, depression or despair.
Let us know, have you or a loved one ever experienced adult separation anxiety? Did you know that separation anxiety in adults could manifest in the same way it does in children? Share your thoughts in the comments below.