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Understanding and Overcoming Separation Anxiety Disorder

Understanding and Overcoming Separation Anxiety Disorder

From a young age, anyone can be riddled with anxiety and have it effect their daily lives significantly. Children, teens, and adults alike can all be impacted by the weight that anxiety carries. Separation Anxiety Disorder is a condition that often onsets in early childhood and can continue to manifest for years to come, as well. Unfortunately, Separation Anxiety Disorder does not just affect the individual that is experiencing it. For parents, heavy dependencies can begin to take a toll on them over time. It is incredibly difficult, upsetting, and defeating to watch your child struggle with separation anxiety. You may worry that it if there is no attempt to manage it, anxiety will continue to burden them in the future, as well.

Meeting with a child psychologist can help immensely, especially when sessions are utilized in conjunction with other consistent practices. Understanding how to deal with and overcome severe separation anxiety is something that comes with time and varies from each individual case, but there are general guidelines that can diminish separation anxiety in a healthy and efficient manner.


Ease into Separation

The first rule of thumb when it comes to working through separation anxiety is to be sure and gently ease into any separation that takes place. It is normal for children to experience some degree of separation anxiety when they are quite young and not used to being away from their caregivers for extended periods of time, but it is when it starts to interfere with everyday life and encumber daily tasks and responsibilities that various tools should be implemented. It is wise to not shock the individual in your life with separation anxiety disorder with suddenly disappearing all of the time, as this will likely just make matters much worse. Easing into being separated intermittently and for shorter amounts of time at first will yield the best results in not creating a worse situation. Practicing this method will make it so much easier over time and allow your child to get accustomed to being away from you more regularly.


Consistency is Crucial

If you are trying to create a change of habit in really any area of life, it will likely not be successful without consistency. Keeping a consistent routine of who is watching your child, when, and how long you are gone for is going to help your child become more comfortable with the circumstances at hand. Kids thrive off of having routines set in place and not having many unwelcome surprises thrown at them, but of course life tends to get in the way and these curveballs are inevitable. This very reason is why it is so important to keep up with consistency, because it will allow your child to have more trust and less anxiety surrounding separation over time. You can do whatever works best for your individual needs here, such as not making a big deal about leaving or coming up with unique little routines and habits each time you go somewhere. Regardless, stay as consistent as possible and it will only pay off over time.


Keep Familiarity

A vital tactic for lessening the severity of separation anxiety disorder is to keep familiarity present as much as possible. Having the same person to supervise your child, allowing them to stay in the familiarity and comfort of their home or surroundings that they are comfortable and happy in, or making sure they have a personal or soothing object with them if they have to be out of the security of their own home can seriously help in lessening instances of immense separation anxiety. A huge inducer of anxiety is fear and unfamiliar situations, so keeping these circumstances to a minimum is very much ideal for reducing occurrences of significant separation anxiety. If you decide to meet with a child psychologist, finding a relationship that meshes well and that is effective is an amazing thing and should be kept for as long as possible, as this will create a sense of familiarity and produce the best overall outcome.


Reassurance and Limits Are Important

Especially when it comes to young children, reassurance is key to decreasing their feelings of anxiety whenever separation for any amount of time is happening. It can be extremely difficult to see your child upset, but setting limits is also an essential aspect of reducing these reactions over time. Reassuring your little one as much as possible before leaving for any length of time and showing that you can keep promises will stick with them so much, and it will ensure that they will become more used to being away from you over time. It will likely often be hard to stay firm and leave when you see them upset about separating but upholding the limits and not making a huge deal out of leaving will ultimately create less complicated scenarios in the long run. Setting fixed limits will not always be easy, but with anything there is an adjustment period, and it will inevitably happen little by little with consistency and continuous reassurance.

There can be an onset of separation anxiety disorder for a number of reasons, and there is evidence that shows chemical imbalances playing a part. As it has already been mentioned, separation anxiety to an extent is not uncommon or something to worry about instantly. When separation anxiety becomes a regular, interfering aspect in your daily lives for a prolonged period of time that starts to trickle into numerous other areas of your lives, consider meeting with a children’s psychologist and implementing some of these useful tools to help ease the unwanted feelings of anxiety. Thankfully, there are so many available resources out there for people in this same boat and obtaining the ability to work through and overcome major separation anxiety is very much achievable.


Getting Help

If you are in need of help with your child's Separation Anxiety symptoms, please contact us at Dr. Messina & Associates. Through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and medication management, our highly qualified team specializes in anxiety and depression in children, adolescents, and adults. We have pyschiatrists, psychologists, and therapists ready to work with you and your child. In-person appointments are available to patients in the Southlake (DFW) area. Online appointments are available to patients in the Austin, DFW, Houston, and San Antonio areas.


Dr. Michael Messina

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