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.
Different epidemiological studies indicate a prevalence of 4 to 5% in children and adolescents. In contrast to other anxiety disorders, 50 to 75% of children with SAD (separation anxiety disorder) come from homes of low socioeconomic status. The severity of symptomatology ranges from anticipatory uneasiness to full-blown anxiety about separation, but children are usually brought to the clinician when SAD results in school refusal or somatic symptoms. School refusal is reported in about 75% of children with SAD, and SAD is reported to occur in up to 80% of children with school refusal.