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Sunday, November 17, 2019

Separation Anxiety Disorder

The principal difficulty of patients diagnosed with separation anxiety disorder is that they experience developmentally inappropriate and excessive fear or anxiety when they imagine or actually encounter separation from those to whom the patient is attached.

The diagnosis of separation anxiety disorder is considered when the clinical picture of the patient presents at least three of the following characteristics:

  1. Recurrent excessive distress when anticipating or experiencing separation from home or from major attachment figures.
  2. Persistent and excessive worry about losing major attachment figures or about possible harm to them, such as illness, injury, disasters, or death.
  3. Persistent and excessive worry about experiencing an untoward event (e.g., getting lost, being kidnapped, having an accident, becoming ill) that causes separation from a major attachment figure.
  4. Persistent reluctance or refusal to go out, away from home, to school, to work, or elsewhere because of fear of separation.
  5. Persistent and excessive fear or reluctance about being alone or without major attachment figures at home or in other settings.
  6. Persistent reluctance or refusal to sleep away from home or to go to sleep without being near a major attachment figure.
  7. Repeated nightmares involving the theme of separation.
  8. Repeated complaints of physical symptoms (e.g., headaches, stomachaches, nausea, vomiting) when separation from major attachment figures occurs or is anticipated.

In addition the following duration (B) and clinical significance (C) criteria should be met:

B. The fear, anxiety, or avoidance is persistent, lasting at least 4 weeks in children and adolescents and typically 6 months or more in adults.

C. The disturbance causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, academic, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

Important notice: You should not reach the decision that you or the person you have in mind, when reading the above clinical description, suffers from separation anxiety disorder. We encourage you to seek professional advice, if you feel that you or the persons you care about meet one or more of the clinical criteria.

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