14 Mar Symptoms of Separation Anxiety in Adults + 5 Coping Strategies
Table of Contents
- 1 Symptoms of Separation Anxiety
- 2 What Causes Separation Anxiety?
- 3 How to Cure Separation Anxiety? [5 Coping Strategies]
- 4 How to Treat Separation Anxiety in Adults?
- 5 Final Notes
As her son packed to leave for a solo trip for the very first time, Martha waited anxiously outside his room. She had a tough time waving goodbye to him.
That night, she was unable to sleep and kept waiting for a call from her son.
When it finally came, she feared he had met with an accident or had landed in big trouble even before picking up her phone.
While she was relieved to know he had reached safely, she kept worrying and ended up calling him multiple times.
This sort of behavior might seem quite normal as a parent. But is it?
“Separation anxiety” is a common condition among developing children, the sign of which was the panic you felt when going to school for the first time.
But while separation anxiety in toddlers and young children is quite normal, it becomes intrusive for adults.
Adults who develop separation anxiety symptoms can exhibit extreme panic similar to how Martha felt.
In order to have a better handle and control over your own emotions, you need awareness. So, we prepped up some tips to supplement your understanding.
However, before knowing how to cure separation anxiety, know when you’re actually showing symptoms and when it’s just normal.
Symptoms of Separation Anxiety
Separation anxiety is a common theme among people who feel extreme amounts of fear about being separated from their loved ones.
Are you experiencing any of these separation anxiety symptoms?
- Inability or refusal to stay away from loved ones or a family member.
- Fear of being left alone or facing separation from a person.
- Worries around a loved one getting hurt, abducted, or killed.
- Extreme episodes of anxiety when separated from a person.
- Over clinginess and the need to know the whereabouts of a loved one at all times.
- Persistent fear of facing separation from a pet (separation anxiety in adults from pets)
- Difficulty leaving the side of a person fearing something bad will happen to them.
- Experiencing physical signs of distress including physical pain and headache.
If you’re someone who often struggles with any of these signs of separation anxiety, you have to be vigilant.
This kind of behavior can easily become overbearing for the ones who are on the receiving end.
In fact, it can become overwhelming for the sufferer as well. It’s not uncommon to notice such feelings taking over your life.
Soon these symptoms creep up on you to start interfering with your work life and daily activities.
That’s also the moment when you need to evaluate if you’re on the verge of a serious separation anxiety disorder (SAD).
So, Is separation anxiety a mental illness?
Here, it’s important to understand the difference between separation anxiety and separation anxiety disorder. Not all cases are severe actually.
Medical diagnosis requires an individual to have symptoms for more than six months.
Plus, the symptoms have to be excessive as per the developmental age.
Regardless, it doesn’t discount the need to manage the early signs. Early redressal can actually help you design self-care mechanisms.
Because when you tip over to the “excessive” side, it can very well be categorized as a mental illness after a professional diagnosis.
Understanding the root cause is also key to design a treatment plan for separation anxiety disorder and know how to cure separation anxiety.
What Causes Separation Anxiety?
It might sound absurd. But the roots of the condition can very well be planted in your own childhood.
Other mental health conditions can also trigger separation anxiety disorder.
Here’s how we can explain the causes of separation anxiety:
- There’s a great chance of you having Separation Anxiety Disorder if you were diagnosed with it as a child.
- A person diagnosed with panic disorder, PTSD, generalized anxiety disorder, or social anxiety is at a greater risk.
- A sudden loss of a family member or close ones can trigger separation anxiety symptoms.
- A history of traumatic events in your childhood.
- Different attachment styles during childhood can trigger the symptoms as an adult.
As children, we often develop patterns that are imprinted on our psyche. As a result, they don’t just get away as soon as we enter adulthood.
For instance, someone with an absent parent is more likely to be clingy or overbearing in their adult relationships.
The fear of losing the ones you love can stick through well into adulthood.
Rewind a little bit to the panic and anxiety Martha felt.
What if the reason she worries so much about her son is actually rooted in the fact that she lost her father when she was just 10 years old?
NOTE: Reading more on how repressed childhood trauma affects your adult relationships can help you navigate your feelings.
But how to cure separation anxiety or are there any evidence-based treatment for separation anxiety disorder?
Yes, there is always the scope of professional help. Plus, take some steps today to start managing your symptoms.
Let’s find out How Do You Deal with Separation Anxiety?
How to Cure Separation Anxiety? [5 Coping Strategies]
Taking steps towards self-awareness and different coping strategies can help you avoid a full-blown separation anxiety disorder.
#1. Talk About Your Feelings and Maintain a Journal
It will likely do you good to talk about your fears and anxieties in a safe environment.
In fact, it would be best to discuss your anxieties with the ones you direct them towards.
This way you can always ask for support when these feelings crop up.
Not to mention, it also deepens the mutual understanding and compassion in a relationship.
If such communication is not possible, take time to keep a journal and record your thoughts and mood irregularities.
#2. Utilize Time Apart and Get Busy
People who feel overly dependent on the feeling of keeping a loved one near often lack self-assurance.
This can be addressed by cultivating your own hobbies and getting busy with something.
How you practice separation time determines if you’ll be able to cure separation anxiety. It develops feelings of independence away from the relationship.
However, don’t feel ashamed if developing these habits takes time. What’s important is you take the first step.
#3. Reframe Your Thinking Pattern
In order to calm down your anxieties, you may have to practice a greater degree of self-examination.
Educate yourself about your symptoms and learn to recognize them when you notice them.
Stop yourself in the tracks and try to drive negative thoughts and worries in a more positive direction.
Instead of thinking, I’m alone, think now I’ve more time to go out and socialize and engage in other activities.
As an adult, you are the master of where you place your attention. Separation gives you extra space to engage in other activities.
#4. Exercise Regularly, Sleep Well and Practice Relaxation Techniques
Exercising and sleeping enough can help you have better control over your emotional health.
In fact, these activities directly affect the feel-good hormones in your body.
It’s obvious to feel more anxious and worried if you’re also tired and feel sluggish. Besides, eating right has its own importance in keeping you well-nourished.
If you usually follow a healthy routine, there’s little chance of you thinking irrational thoughts.
Likewise, practicing relaxing activities like yoga and meditation can also help you organize your thoughts.
#5. Engage in New Experiences
As hard as it might be for you, knowing how to cure separation anxiety requires you to practice self-sufficiency.
Developing new hobbies or indulging in old ones will help you here.
Taking part in other activities outside of the relationship also gives time to develop a sense of self.
Not to mention, it will minimize the conflict and neediness you feel in your relationships.
However, this is not to say that you become avoidant of your emotions.
Rather, it’s about recognizing that your emotions can be volatile, and practicing some time apart is conducive.
You always return to your loved ones feeling more secure when you feel fulfilled on your own.
However, if you’re not able to manage your anxiety, there’s a good chance you need professional support.
How to Treat Separation Anxiety in Adults?
Professionals use psychotherapy or psychological counseling to treat the symptoms of separation anxiety in adults.
You may also have to work through different treatment plans with your therapist before deciding what works best in your case.
Here’s how to cure separation anxiety with professional support.
#1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT for Separation Anxiety usually involves working through your own fears and anxieties.
Under Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, a therapist works with you to recognize your thought patterns and behaviors and how they influence your actions.
CBT helps cultivate a better understanding of your own actions and how you can change them into healthier ones.
You might have to attend a limited number of sessions as you learn to build a better sense of how to manage separation anxiety.
#2. Group Therapy or Family Therapy
A group therapy session helps develop a better understanding of your own condition by interacting with other people.
It, in fact, offers an opportunity to also develop communication skills and give words to your thoughts.
One or more therapists will work with you in a group setting.
Likewise, family therapy helps resolve conflicts that might have developed due to a lack of communication and anxiety.
Moreover, it will help you work through your fears and accept change as a positive thing.
#3. Antidepressants and Medications
Depending on the severity of your symptoms, doctors also prescribe medications for anxiety.
Medications are often prescribed in combination with therapy sessions.
However, more often than not, the best way to cure separation anxiety disorder involves therapy. The reason lies in the intimate nature of the condition.
Therapy addresses the root issues in the situation instead of suppressing the fears.
So, can you grow out of separation anxiety?
Of course, yes. In fact, it’s fairly easy if you’ve just started noticing these behavioral patterns.
Developing a better view of your own thoughts and emotions is always the first step.
Adult Separation Anxiety can have you go around in circles of negative and toxic behaviors.
In some cases, it may also elicit negative responses and anger due to being stuck in your own thoughts.
Often, you know the behavior is unjustified. But you still find yourself unable to abstain from reacting.
This can cause inner turmoil and, needless to mention, can also damage your much-loved connections.
Intense feelings of anxiety and fear can also cause physical discomfort and ailments. Thus, the need to manage symptoms becomes crucial.
Fortunately, things get fairly easy when you take active steps with full knowledge of how to cure separation anxiety.
Self-awareness, sometimes combined with the support of a qualified therapist, is all you need to start building healthier thoughts free of persistent anxiety.