Separation anxiety disorder: what is it and how does it affect the children of divorced parents?
Psychologist Danielle Bevilaqua:
quality time dedicated to the coexistence with the child makes all the difference of the separation of the parents
Anxiety is one of the most common pathologies among people of all ages, ranging from children and young people to adults and the elderly throughout the world. However, only a small percentage of people receive treatment, since symptoms can be confused with other disorders or simply ignored for a long time.
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Among the many manifestations of anxiety, one of them stands out: separation anxiety disorder (SAD), which affects children and adolescents and can cause serious sequelae throughout life.
According to Danielle Bevilaqua, a psychologist at Santa Monica Hospital, “the roles of parents within the development of the child differ and complement each other. For healthy development it is interesting that they have a psychologically significant presence, that is, quality time dedicated to living with this The fact that she feels loved by her parents will significantly influence her self-esteem. Feeling abandoned or of little importance in the life of her parents may make it difficult to build a well-structured and healthy personality. “
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Now, let’s clear up some possible doubts:
What Is Separation Anxiety Disorder?
Separation anxiety may first manifest in infants from 8 months and usually disappears after 2 years. However, about 1/3 of the cases may persist into adulthood when appropriate treatment is not done. Considering that more than 75% of mental disorders begin in childhood, it is important to seek the diagnosis and appropriate treatment as soon as possible.
It is common for children and adolescents to become apprehensive when temporarily separating from their parents and caregivers. Separation anxiety becomes a disorder when the reaction to absence is exaggerated, affecting development and quality of life.
Patients report an intense concern about their parents: fear that they will lose, disappear or abandon them, suffer accidents or die.
The psychologist adds that “the child can develop these fears when he or she does not feel loved or understood in their needs.” In these cases, we often advise parents to try to go back to their memories and realize what made sense for themselves in childhood or adolescence. give everything the child or adolescent wants, but rather get closer and understand their world to maintain a relationship more intimate, true and thus healthier. ”
Among the risk factors for the development of separation anxiety disorder, we can mention family history, overprotection of parents, exaggerated attachment and situations of change, such as separation of parents or school exchange.
Learn why a child should never stay away from parents
How does the disorder manifest itself?
Separation anxiety disorder is driven by fear and excessive worry about certain situations in the family routine. Warning signs for the manifestation of the disorder may be:
• cry excessively;
• cling to parents;
• present violent behavior;
• complain about separation;
• call for parents.
• vomiting and nausea;
• difficulty sleeping;
• recurrent nightmares.
What Are the Consequences of Separation Anxiety Disorder?
It is estimated that the disorder affects between 4 and 5% of children and adolescents in Brazil, and without adequate treatment, the disorder can evolve and impair the emotional, social and psychological development of the patient.
OCD in childhood is also a risk factor for other disorders that can manifest throughout life, such as panic syndrome and agoraphobia. In addition, children and youth who present the problem may limit their social interactions and unconsciously seek isolation.
In children of separated parents, one needs to be even more attentive to the symptoms and warning signs of separation anxiety disorder. In this situation, children experience more often and intensely feelings of absence, abandonment, and loss.
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Although parents strive to stay present in their children’s lives, it is natural for children and adolescents to experience distress by separating from one parent.
“Not only is the amount of time counted, but it is also worth emphasizing that the quality of this time will essentially influence the well-being of the children.
Two visits per month become an almost impossible task, but being always together without listening and considering their speeches may also not produce good results. So focus on how to be meaningful in your child’s life, “says Danielle Bevilaqua.
Separation anxiety disorder can and should be treated at any stage of development. In the majority of cases, treatment also involves parents, who must learn to deal with the child’s difficulties and help in their recovery.