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.
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.
The rates of diagnosis of 'any anxiety disorder' varied widely between the studies. The minimum figure reported was 2.6%, and the maximum was 41.2%. Separation Anxiety Disorder appeared to be the most common individual anxiety diagnosis in this age group. Anxiety disorders appear to be more common than depressive disorders, and probably also more common than disorders of behaviour. Anxiety disorders are, at the very least, fairly common in pre-adolescent children.