Separation anxiety disorder is a mental health disorder that usually begins in childhood and is characterized by worrying that is out of proportion to the situation of temporarily leaving home or otherwise separating from loved ones. Approximately 4%-5% of children and adolescents suffer from separation anxiety disorder. Remember, separation anxiety is a rite of passage for infants and toddlers. Be patient as your child learns that it's OK to spend time away from you.
The symptoms of separation anxiety includes persistently 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 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, stomachaches, nausea, or vomiting) when separation from major attachment figures occurs or is anticipated, repeated nightmares about being separated from the people who are important to the sufferer.
Lifetime separation anxiety disorder prevalence averaged 4.8% across countries (interquartile range [25th-75th percentiles]=1.4%-6.4%), with 43.1% of lifetime onsets occurring after age 18. Significant time-lagged associations were found between earlier separation anxiety disorder and subsequent onset of internalizing and externalizing DSM-IV disorders and conversely between these disorders and subsequent onset of separation anxiety disorder.