Separation Anxiety Disorder occurs when a child fears physical separation from a caretaker and experiences anxiety and worry whenever anticipated separation might occur. They may worry about something terrible happening to the caretaker while they are apart. Children with separation anxiety disorder protest goodbyes at any leave taking, such as going to daycare, school or to bed. They frequently cry and plead to stay with the caretaker, despite apparently enjoying school or daycare. Children with separation anxiety disorder are often unable to sleep alone. Children with more severe separation anxiety may insist on being within touch or sight of family members. Adults may also experience separation anxiety disorder.
Successful treatment of separation anxiety disorder involves exposure therapy that gradually teaches your child that they can tolerate and enjoy separations such as going to daycare, school or to bed and can master their anxiety about being alone. Imaginal exposure is used to help overcome frightening thoughts about separation. Caretakers are taught how to help their child become confident about separation and growing up.
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