Separation Anxiety, the most common disorder in children

Anxiety disorders are the most frequent pathologies in childhood and adolescence. The best known anxiety disorder is panic disorder, a neurotic disorder that occurs when repeated crises of anxiety occur. It combines physical symptoms (palpitations, shortness of breath, tingling, dizziness) with psychological symptoms (irrational fear, sense of loss of control and feeling of alienation from the environment). Other anxiety disorders are: separation anxiety, phobias, social phobia, agoraphobia, post-traumatic stress disorder and generalized anxiety.

The clinical manifestations of anxiety vary with age and with the emotional development of the subject. A distinction should be made between anxiety as a physiological response to situations experienced as intense or stressful and anxiety as a symptom of other medical or psychological illnesses.

The prevalence of anxiety disorders in children and adolescents is between 10-20%. Separation anxiety is the most common anxiety disorder in childhood, affecting up to 5% of school-age children and 4% of adolescents. The clinical manifestation is the fear of detachment from parents, mainly from the maternal figure.

In the case of separation anxiety, parents will notice that the child has an intense fear of being separated from them, fearing that their parents will not be there when they return from school, or that they will not pick them up when they leave, they refuse to be separated from them, they demand to sleep with them at night, they are afraid of their parents’ death. Physical symptoms may be accompanied by abdominal pain, tremor, dizziness, headaches.

Risk of depression

Although the symptoms usually revert spontaneously, it can be complicated if they become chronic, if a depressive disorder appears or if fear is instrumentalized by the child.

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If the situation becomes complicated, it could affect their daily life and their school performance because it can lead to a progressive isolation from their friends, to a laziness in their studies and even experience symptoms of depression such as apathy, lack of concentration or sadness.