This is a treatable disorder in which a child develops intense anxiety, panic or fear when separated from a parent or other loved one. This problem may be so intense it disrupts the child's and parent's life. It may appear slowly or it may appear suddenly in a child who has shown no previous signs of a problem.
Many children complain of stomachaches, headaches, nausea and vomiting and refuse to be away from the caregiver. They may even show signs of a panic attack, including a racing pulse, heart palpitations, dizziness, and extreme emotional and physical distress. They may refuse to go to other friend's homes or be away from home for any long period of time. At home, they may cling to their parents or follow them around. They may have sleep problems including not being able to fall asleep unless with the caregiver. When the child is away from the parent they may fear the worst has happened to the parent (death, extreme harm) and they are afraid the parent will not come back. As one can imagine, this can seriously affect success at school or any out of the home activities.
Child counseling, including both play therapy and behavioral therapy have been found helpful in reducing the problems associated with this disorder. Medication may also be helpful in some cases. If left untreated this problem can result in more serious anxiety disorders as well as school and family problems.
This disorder is treatable by a trained professional who specializes in childhood anxiety. The Counseling Corner has counselors with experience in treating separation anxiety. Please get the help you need.