Separation anxiety is the fear of separating from home or from those whom the person is attached. The person with separation anxiety may have nightmares about separating. If the attachment figure is away, there is constant worry something bad will happen, or that harm will come to the attachment figure. The person may refuse to go to school or work as they do not want to leave their attachment figure. The person is not able to be alone without their attachment figure. When there is separation, it is endured with severe anxiety, and the person exhibits physical symptoms of nausea, vomiting, headaches, or stomachaches.
Separation anxiety usually starts in childhood, but it can also start when you are an adult. Most children who refuse school have separation anxiety. It is a miserable existence having to depend on another person. You can’t go anywhere without your attachment figure. And out of sight is not out of mind, as you worry constantly when you are away from your attachment figure. You are not able to go on sleepovers, as you constantly worry about your attachment figure. When you are separated, you might call or text your attachment figure constantly, for reassurance that they are okay.
Separation anxiety can also look like other disorders that have difficulty leaving home as a problem, such as autism, schizophrenia, and panic disorder with agoraphobia. The difference with autism is that the problem with leaving home is that they do not do well in social situations. And with psychosis, they do not want to leave home as they have delusions that someone is trying to harm them. With panic disorder with agoraphobia, the panic attacks occur randomly, while the anxiety in separation anxiety only occur when the person is separated from the attachment figure.