Tears in the morning at nursery, stomach aches before going to bed, terrors before the school trip: Children with separation anxiety fear being separated from their parents or other important caregiver. Research indicates that approximately 2 to 3 percent of children ages 4 to 13 are affected by this disorder, which goes beyond the typical weirdness that boys and girls often exhibit at certain stages of development.
In children, this phenomenon has become well studied and understood. It’s different with adults: They can also develop separation anxiety disorder – but most people hardly realize it. Representative studies indicate Between five and seven percent of adults reach a point in their lives when they feel extremely stressed when someone is temporarily away from them. In addition, those affected often believe that they cannot live without the person in question. Unlike in children, separation anxiety in adults is not necessarily related to the parents. The partner, other family members or friends are often the focal point of the disorder. Sometimes the symptoms are so obvious that normal daily life is almost impossible.
Estimated experts Just over half of those infected have had the disease with them since childhood. The rest do not show symptoms until adulthood. Apart from that, little is known about separation anxiety after childhood and adolescence.
Megan Vanessas of Columbia University and Danielle Klein of Stony Brook University wanted to change that: To find out who is most susceptible to the disorder and what distinguishes those with it, they asked more than 550 American women about possible separation anxiety symptoms and personality traits. They have now published the results in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology.
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