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Separation Anxiety

The essential feature of separation anxiety disorder is developmentally inappropriate and excessive anxiety concerning separation from the home or from those to whom the person is attached. This anxiety is beyond that which is expected for the individual's developmental level, the disturbance lasts for a period of at least four weeks and causes significant distress or impairment in social, academic or occupational or other important areas of functioning.

Individuals with this sort disorder may experience recurrent excess of distress on separation from home or major attachment figures. When separated from attachment figures, they often need to know their whereabouts or need to stay in touch with them for example by telephone calls. Some individuals may become extremely homesick and uncomfortable to the point of misery one away from home. When separated from major attachment figures. These individuals are often preoccupied with fears that accidents or illness will befall the attachment figures or themselves.

  • 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 work or else where because of fear of separation.
  • Persistently an excessively fearful or reluctant to be alone or without major attachment figures at home or without significant others.
  • Persistent reluctance or refusal to go to sleep without being near a major attachment figure out where to sleep away from home.
  • Repeated nightmare is involving the theme of separation.
  • Repeated complaints of physical symptoms such as headaches stomachaches nausea or vomiting when separation for major attachment figures occurs or is anticipated.

Gerrig, Richard J. & Philip G. Zimbardo. Psychology And Life, 16/e. Published by Allyn and Bacon, Boston, MA. Copyright (c) 2002 by Pearson Education. Reprinted by permission of the publisher at

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-5. Washington, D.C: American Psychiatric Association.

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