Adult Separation Anxiety Disorder

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The term “separation anxiety” is commonly referred to when discussing toddlers and young children, but did you know adults can experience this stressful feeling, too? Adult Separation Anxiety Disorder (ASAD) is rarely diagnosed because little emphasis has been placed on the disorder outside of the childhood range.

More women than men are affected by ASAD, which is thought to stem from failed attachment styles in childhood.

In 2006, the results of a national mental health survey (National Comorbidity Survey Replication) were compiled by Katherine Shear and her colleagues, who found that ASAD is actually more prevalent than Childhood Separation Anxiety Disorder. 

In 2013, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) was updated to say the age of onset does not have to be before 18 years, and a duration criterion of at least six months has been added, so it is easier to diagnose ASAD; but the diagnostic criteria generally remained the same.

As part of the update by the American Psychiatric Association, children of adults with ASAD were added to the list of major attachment figures and work was added, in addition to school, to the list of places where avoidance behaviors may occur.

MORE:  Social Media Anxiety Disorder: Why 42% of Moms Are Suffering }

Diagnostic Criteria for Separation Anxiety Disorder

  • Recurrent excessive distress when separation from home or major attachment figures occurs or is anticipated
  • Persistent and excessive worry about losing, or possible harm befalling, major attachment figures
  • Persistent and excessive worry that an untoward event will lead to separation from a major attachment figure
  • Persistent reluctance or refusal to go to school, or elsewhere, due to fear of separation
  • Persistent and excessively fearful or reluctant to be alone, or without major attachment figures at home, or without significant adults in other settings
  • Persistent reluctance or refusal to go to sleep without being near a major attachment figure, or to sleep away from home
  • Repeated nightmares involving the theme of separation
  • Repeated complaints of physical symptoms, such as headaches, stomach aches, nausea, and vomiting, when separation from major attachment figures occurs or is anticipated

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Adult Separation Anxiety Disorder

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12 comments

  1. Beverly says:

    I do believe I agree with this article. Whenever my husband leaves on trips, I fear he won’ t be coming back, or even worse he goes missing and I get the dreaded phone call to come identify his body. Definitely should figure out a better way to get over this! Ha!

  2. Eva says:

    I hate when my husband has to leave me. He is an active duty Marine which requires for him to go on deployments or field ops. I get so depressed when he leaves. We are very close to each other so him leaving is like me losing the other half of myself.

  3. Erika says:

    Wow! This really opened my eyes on why I’m so nervous when leaving the house alone. I’ve become very attached to my husband without being able to put a reason to it. I use to be so independent and for quite a while now I’ve become so dependent on him. Emotionally and physically I need him to be there. He works long hours so when he’s gone I occupy myself with our kids but the days he works overnight I feel so anxious I can’t even sleep. Luckily he checks in and messages me throughout the day or night so that keeps me more at ease. But I need to make a visit to muy therapist soon

  4. LIZ says:

    good article, i didnt know about this, tnx so much for the infomartion good to learn

  5. Krystal says:

    When I was in highschool I was diagnosed with social anxiety disorder. I’m less anxious in social situations now, but I get rather anxious and jumpy when my husband is away at work. I seem to have most of the symptoms, but I’ve found that keeping busy and talking to my husband a couple of times a night helps.

  6. Ashley says:

    interesting it sucks to have this and your husband be in the military

  7. gfeld says:

    interesting. never heard of this!

  8. Maria says:

    I was wondering if it was normal to feel so anxious every time my husband went to work… well, I’ll keep myself busy with Fiorella 🙂

  9. mommy nhoj says:

    It was short-lived for me when I gave birth or it must associated to postpartum blues. Guess t’was normal to feel sad to leave the baby for the first time or the first week when you go back to work. The key word for ASAD as I understand it is persistent.

  10. Timothy says:

    we r staying together atleast for now….lol

  11. tiffanysue22 says:

    This is a very interesting article! I think there are many adults with separation anxiety disorder.

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