Separation Anxiety In Teens: Symptoms & Solutions

Separation anxiety typically occurs in children, but it can also appear in teens from time to time.

Teens may feel afraid when separated from parents, guardians or people they trust.

They may also feel as if something bad will happen to their loved ones when they are away. Separation anxiety in teens could signal other potential anxiety issues and should be taken seriously.

Causes Of Separation Anxiety…

Teens may appear normal until symptoms suddenly appear. The cause is usually a combination of environmental factors, family issues, a chemical imbalance or a traumatic event. Teens with a family history of anxiety may be more prone to separation anxiety or other forms of anxiety.

Teens who have lost or nearly lost a parent or guardian may suddenly display symptoms of separation anxiety. They are afraid of losing their loved ones and do not want to leave their side. Teens who are bullied or feel miserable at school may also want to stay close to their parents where they feel safer.

It is important for parents and guardians to determine the cause of the anxiety to better learn how to help their teen.

Common Symptoms…

Separation anxiety may be a problem if the teen exhibits any combination of the following symptoms:

  • Separation nightmares
  • Excessive worry about parents or guardians
  • Fear of being alone
  • Frequent physical problems such as headaches or stomach aches
  • Refusal to sleep away from home if parents are not around
  • Panic when separated
  • ┬áRefusal to go to school
  • Excessive worry about their own safety

These symptoms can prevent teens from socializing with friends, doing well in school or even sleeping well at night. Recognizing the symptoms early is key to getting a teen the help they need.

Teenager

Seeking Treatment…

Separation anxiety is not as common in teens as it is children. The disorder could mean the teen actually has another type of anxiety. The separation symptoms may be an extension of another anxiety disorder. It is important for parents or guardians to seek professional help to determine if there are any underlying issues.

For mild cases, treatment usually only involves counselling and possibly anti-anxiety medication on a temporary basis. Parents are encouraged to be involved and supportive to help teens overcome their anxiety and feel safe again. Teens may out grow their anxiety over time, especially if it was caused due to a specific event or situation.

Severe cases often require family therapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy. Family therapy teaches parents and guardians more about the anxiety, the causes and how they can help. CBT is designed to train teens on how to recognize the cause of their fear and overcome it. This usually involves a series of sessions to teach teens how to manage their symptoms.

Early treatment is recommended to prevent further issues. Teens left untreated can develop other anxiety problems. Teens can attend regular counseling or group meetings after their initial treatment to prevent their anxiety from returning. Families can also attend to support their teen.

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