Adult Separation Anxiety Disorder: Not Just Kids, Part 2

– Posted in: Anxiety

Artwork by Robert Mickelsen

Artwork by Robert Mickelsen

Adult Separation Anxiety Disorder affects almost 7 percent of the American people. Yet it was unheard of only 15 years ago.

Adult Separation Anxiety Disorder sufferers experience extreme anxiety and fear when separated from major attachment figures; avoidance of being alone; and fears that harm will befall those close to them.

Because the diagnosis is so new, there is no standard way to treat Adult Separation Anxiety Disorder. Sadly, it is hardly mentioned in the standard diagnostic manuals that mental health care professionals use.

This two-part post accompanies the posting of the reference article on Adult Separation Anxiety Disorder. The current post is the second of two. The two posts are a short version of the reference article, which has full information about the disorder. The information in today’s post falls under the following headings:

  • How does Adult Separation Anxiety Disorder affect your life?
  • Adult Separation Anxiety Disorder and other mental disorders
  • What is the treatment for Adult Separation Anxiety Disorder?

Yesterday’s post, part 1, had these headings:

  • Just what is Adult Separation Anxiety Disorder?
  • How many people have Adult Separation Anxiety Disorder?
  • What are the diagnostic criteria for Adult Separation Anxiety Disorder?

Who is most affected by Adult Separation Anxiety Disorder?

Relationships, education, employment are all affected

There are more women than men with ASAD. However, men are more likely than women to have the first onset of ASAD in adulthood.{{1}} Separation Anxiety Disorder, both the adult and the childhood versions, seems to run in families.{{2}}

The odds of being not married or being separated are elevated both among those who had childhood Separation Anxiety Disorder and those with ASAD. This suggests that childhood Separation Anxiety Disorder might be a risk factor for subjects remaining unmarried and, once married, for marital instability.{{3}}

Education seems to play a large role in an adult’s susceptibility to ASAD. Those with fewer years of education are more likely to suffer from ASAD than those who have more years. {{4}}

ASAD plays havoc with employment, with a large portion of ASAD sufferers being unemployed or employed in a non-traditional manner. It is not known whether ASAD caused the unemployment, or if the ASAD was triggered by the unemployment.{{5}}

How does Adult Separation Anxiety Disorder affect your life?

ASAD causes serious impairment to your life

ASAD takes a dreadful toll on a person’s life and on the lives of those around them. For the person with ASAD the recurring distress, worrying, fear and sleep disturbances make every day a confusing and torturous experience.{{6}} For those who are the “subject of attachment” — the spouse, friend, parent, etc — the continual clinginess, neediness, and drama of life with a person with ASAD can be almost more than one can take.

ASAD is extremely hard on relationships. Many people cannot handle such neediness in a partner. As noted above, people with ASAD are much more likely not to have been married or to be divorced or separated.

ASAD is often linked to personal and social impairment. As noted above, ASAD is associated with roughly doubling of the odds that a sufferer will have low (0–12 years) education, be unemployed, and be unmarried or experiencing marital disruption. This is consistent with the findings of several studies that ASAD can be seriously damaging to one’s life.{{7}}{{8}}

The following table shows the personal and social impairment experienced by people with ASAD:{{9}}

Housework

  • Any personal and social impairment: 56.1 percent
  • Severe personal and social impairment: 21.1 percent

Work

  • Any personal and social impairment: 51.6 percent
  • Severe personal and social impairment: 21.7 percent

Personal relationships

  • Any personal and social impairment: 66.6 percent
  • Severe personal and social impairment: 28.0 percent

Social relationships

  • Any personal and social impairment: 66.4 percent
  • Severe personal and social impairment: 31.5 percent

Maximum impaired performance in any role area

  • Any personal and social impairment: 73.4 percent
  • Severe personal and social impairment: 45.0 percent

Adult Separation Anxiety Disorder and other mental disorders

Over 88% of people wit ASAD have another mental disorder

ASAD often occurs along with other psychiatric conditions, especially other Anxiety Disorders or mood disorders.{{10}} Research findings indicate that up to 91.1 percent of people with ASAD could be classified as meeting the criteria for at least one other mental disorder found in the DSM-IV.{{11}}{{12}}

People with ASAD are nearly three times as likely to become addicted to illegal drugs, compared to those without the disorder. They are nearly five times more likely to have an additional Anxiety Disorder and four times more likely to have a mood disorder.{{13}} Katherine Shear, lead author of one of the most important ASAD studies to date, says:{{14}}

I think that separation anxiety disorder is a vulnerability factor for all kinds of mental health problems.

A significant proportion of people with Anxiety Disorders tend to relapse, or remain significantly symptomatic, despite improvements in medications and psychiatric therapy. Theorists have proposed that untreated attachment anxieties and Separation Anxiety Disorder occurring along with other mental disorders contribute to the ineffectiveness of treatment.{{15}} In other words, if co-occurring ASAD is untreated, it tends to cause the treatment to be ineffective or fail entirely.

The following table lists the most common co-occurring mental disorders that appear with ASAD:{{16}}

Anxiety Disorders

Mood Disorders

  • Major depressive disorders: 40.8 percent
  • Dysthymia: 8.9 percent
  • Bipolar disorder: 19.4 percent
  • Any mood disorder: 61.7 percent

Substance Abuse

  • Alcohol abuse: 33.1 percent
  • Alcohol dependence: 20.1 percent
  • Drug abuse: 22.5 percent
  • Drug dependence: 12.6 percent
  • Any substance abuse disorder: 35.9 percent

Any mental disorder: 88.5 percent

What is the treatment for Adult Separation Anxiety Disorder?

There is no standard treatment for ASAD yet

Due to the recentness of the separate diagnosis for ASAD, there is no standard treatment for the disorder. Most therapies treat it similarly to other Anxiety Disorders with a combination of medication and therapy, especially a form of cognitive behavioral therapy called exposure therapy. Exposure therapy is often used to treat phobias. It involves slowly increasing the person’s ability to tolerate a stressful situation.

The person called Stacy, whose story was told in the “Just what is Adult Separation Anxiety Disorder?” section, was treated successfully by Katherine Shear. She used an antidepressant similar to Prozac that also helps reduce obsessive thinking. In addition, Shear used cognitive behavioral therapy, along with exposure therapy, to slowly increase Stacy’s tolerance of separation from her husband. Working with the couple together, Shear gradually helped Stacy learn how to cope with longer and longer periods without her husband by helping her see that each increment didn’t result in catastrophe. When one situation or time period was no longer stressful, another would be tackled.{{17}}

Sadly, the majority of people with ASAD remain untreated, even though many obtain treatment for co-occurring mental conditions such as Anxiety Disorders or depression. The vast majority of patients are treated for co-occurring conditions rather than for ASAD. Less than one-third of patients with ASAD (31.9 percent) report that ASAD was ever a focus of their treatment. This suggests that treatment providers often fail to recognize ASAD in the context of other co-occurring mental conditions.{{18}}

What do you think?

We all have symptoms of ASAD sometimes

Everybody has some symptoms of ASAD from time to time, especially in dire circumstances such as a prolonged separation or a death. There are also some cultures where what might be called “symptoms” are the norm. Research is ongoing to determine what is “normal” and what is not. The full reference articles takes this subject up in detail.

The effects of ASAD in a person’s life have barely been studied. As might be expected due to the newness of the diagnosis, none of the studies of the effects of mental disorders include ASAD. But the warping of a person’s life and those about them by ASAD is very real and very painful. 

I have known several people who have had symptoms of ASAD. They were needy, clingy, or labeled “insecure” by others. Though I knew they really wanted my attention, I did my best to avoid them. Inevitably, this caused them to try all the harder to draw me into a relationship with them. I’m sure my rebuffs were painful for them, and I’m sorry now that I didn’t understand their motivations better. However, for whatever reason, this type of person seems drawn to me, and I have had to fend them off all my life!

  • What do you think might be a “normal symptom” of separation that is not full-blown ASAD?
  • How do you handle needy, clingy, or insecure people?

Glass figurines entitled “Separation Anxiety” created by Robert Mickelsen. Visit myglassart.org for more information.

As always, your comments are welcome!

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FOOTNOTES:

[[1]]Shear, Katherine; Jin, Robert; Meron Ruscio, Ayelet; Walters, Ellen; Kessler, Ronald. (2006, June). Prevalence and Correlates of Estimated DSM-IV Child and Adult Separation Anxiety Disorder in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Retrieved April 1, 2009 from http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/content/full/163/6/1074 Table 1 [[1]]

[[2]]Manicavasagar, Vijaya; Silove, Derrick; Rapee, Ronald; Waters, Felicity; Momartin, Shakeh. (2001, May 2). Parent-child concordance for separation anxiety: a clinical study. Retrieved April 1, 2009 from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6T2X-42YDM3K-D&_user=10&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&view=c&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=0b88db10b139bd52283a4a2d3efc2007 [[2]]

[[3]]Shear, Katherine.(2006, June). [[3]]

[[4]]Shear, Katherine.(2006, June). Table 2 [[4]]

[[5]]Shear, Katherine.(2006, June). Table 2 [[5]]

[[6]]Staff of Depression Perception. (2006). Separation Anxiety Disorder. Retrieved April 1, 2009 from http://www.depressionperception.com/anxiety/anxiety_conditions/separation_anxiety_disorder.asp#_jmp0_ [[6]]

[[7]]Shear, Katherine.(2006, June). [[7]]

[[8]]Staff of Insight Journal. (2007). Adult separation anxiety often overlooked. Retrieved April 1, 2009 from http://www.anxiety-and-depression-solutions.com/articles/news/071706_sep_anxiety.php [[8]]

[[9]]Shear, Katherine.(2006, June). Table 4 [[9]]

[[10]]Staff of Insight Journal. (2007).[[10]]

[[11]]Shear, Katherine.(2006, June). [[11]]

[[12]]Wijeratne, Chanaka; Manicavasagar, Vijaya. (2002, September 11). Separation anxiety in the elderly. Retrieved April 1, 2009 from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6VDK-46RCS0B-6&_user=10&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&view=c&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=2d783326f3f9f29f343c838507b168cd [[12]]

[[13]]Szalzvitz, Maia. (2006). Pathological Clinginess: Study: Adult Separation Anxiety Disorder is prevalent yet poorly understood. Retrieved April 1, 2009 from http://health.msn.com/health-topics/articlepage.aspx?cp-documentid=100235522 [[13]]

[[14]]Szalzvitz, Maia. (2006).[[14]]

[[15]]Kirsten, Laura; Grenyer, Brin; Wagner, Renate; Manicavasagar, Vijaya. (2008, March). Retrieved April 1, 2009 from http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/35862073-66953207/content~db=all~content=a790668570~tab=content [[15]]

[[16]]Shear, Katherine.(2006, June). Table 3 [[16]]

[[17]]Szalzvitz, Maia. (2006).[[17]]

[[18]]Shear, Katherine.(2006, June). [[18]]

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26 Comments… add one
JAMES July 22, 2009, 2:54 pm

MAN I AM 55 MARRIED 27 YRS 2 KIDS AND FEEL EVERY WAY THE SAME AS SHE DOES WHEN APART I FLIP I CRY SOBB AND MISS THEM SO MUCH CANT LOOK TO THE FUTURE NO SLEEP LONELINESS BUT WITH THEM MUCH BETTER ITS THE WORST FEELING LIKE THE WORLD MINE IS GONE HEY LOVES A BIG PART DOCTORS SAY THATS AN EMOTION B.S. THEY CANT GAUGE LOVE SORRY SHE LOVES YOU AND NEEDS YOU KEEP HER .MAN I KNOW HOW SHE FEELS GOD BLESS JAMES

drug recovery November 26, 2009, 2:02 pm

I think that substance abuse is a major reason for anxiety. It makes life terrible for both the addict and the people around him. I think that more people should be aware of what drugs and alcohol do to people.

L. December 15, 2009, 3:24 pm

I am a middle aged, divorced female who can very much relate to the feelings of others with ASAD. My husband divorced me in April. In July, however,he contacted me and wanted to try to rebuild our relationship. I was agreeable,since I had been miserable and unable to sleep or eat since the divorce.About 5 days ago he again told me he wants to “back off ” because he says he is worn out from us trying to act like a married couple again when we’re not. I have been again physically sick and unable to eat or sleep since he told me this. This comes at an especially stressful time,since it is the middle of the holidays and I am working 60 hours a week. I have had to see a therapist in the past because of a traumatic failed marriage who told me I was codependent. After finding this information on ASAD though, I am wondering if this is what is wrong with me. The article and comments have been very informative and helpful.

cheryl March 3, 2010, 7:31 am

Been married now 29 years, well can’t count the last as my husband and I separated now for 12months. I know that it has been my issue that has led us to this point, with my obsession that he will leave me for someone better and more interesting than me. He has been travelling interstate now for more years than I care to remember and I have been so lonely. I am just really tired of being alone, yet I can’t imagine my life without him in it.
Recent events, he told me he couldn’t keep doing this anymore, as he didn’t want to hurt me. Yet since then has given me extravagant gifts for Valentines Day, I am getting mixed messages, cause I know in my heart that all I want is for him to love me.
Now when he goes away I may get a call or I may not. Some say he is going through something, but I think a lot of the time he is testing me to see what I will do without any contact. I believe it to be true and very cruel.
Maybe this is what I have this a ASAD. Would like someone else’s opinion before my marriage is totally destroyed.

lil miss gloomy doom July 4, 2010, 6:59 pm

I have found this article interesting.Except for the part where it says “needy,insecure people” Which I am the opposite. I was in a relationship for 8 years.We have known each other since we where 13 i am 27 now. 16 to 24 we where together. Wasnt apart from each other in those years but only 5 days. He barely said goodbye, up and took off, I found out he broke up with me by a mutual friend that he called and asked him if he heard he broke up with me..It still impacts me deeply to this day, when your whole world disappears without a reason why,or even a goodbye.Your left to pick up your shatterd pieces by your self. And in that are afraid to let anyone in, It causes alcohol and drug abuse just to numb the pain you feel in your heart,insomnia or cant wake up. inable to focus on your job, or being happy,anxiety, flairing up with IBS, depression.Separation anxiety is just a portion what makes up a broken and burnt heart..Time heals all wounds though,,Thats what “they” say anyway.

LM September 2, 2010, 3:25 pm

I’m 24 years old, married for almost 3 years. I’ve just been recently separated because of my behavior and emotional outbursts. My husband and I have a son together. I have not gone to the doctor about any of the symptoms I’ve had but from reading this article is coming very close to home. Although, I should probably get a full examination from my physician about this. But from reading this article, I have realized that I remember when I was younger being completely upset every time my parents left me with my grandmother. And whenever my mother left me with my dad, I’d get completely upset as well. In the back of my mind I knew they were coming back for me and my siblings but I wouldn’t take it as well as they my siblings did. I would cry and try to grab my mom to stay. I feel that now it has stemmed back into adulthood because every time my husband left the house I would try to call him until I reached him. He has found my behavior unbearable and has decided to separate from me. And every time any of my family want to take my son out, I try to not panic but a majority of the time I just tell them no and they respect my decision. But a majority of the time I don’t want to be left at home but I also don’t want to leave the house. I am currently unemployed and looking for work. I feel like what I have may be ASAD because of the traits I feel like I have portrayed. A lot of my family have been telling me that my behavior has gotten too irrational. I didn’t want to my husband to leave so I did hid his clothes and his car keys. It has gotten to the point where I’ve been doing a lot of irrational things and don’t understand why I do them, but the last few things I’ve done have been because I don’t want my husband to leave. When I last went to the doctor, she said that I may have anxiety disorder. But I’ll have to go back again and see if I really do have ASAD.

A big mess September 6, 2010, 1:00 pm

I have been looking for answers to my emotions for a while now, and I have not been able to understand myself, until now. I know I have ASAD. I fear my husband will leave me all the time, even though we just got married 5 months ago. When I am alone, I am depressed. I am constantly by my phone, hoping I will hear from him while he is at work. I left a previous job because it required me to work overnight, and being away from him all night was too much to handle. When I would get home the following morning, I did not want to sleep becasue it was usually his day off and I was so desperate to spend time with him. When I did fall asleep I would always awake angry and upset because I felt I had wasted time I could have been spending with him. I always want to know where he is, and what he is doing when I am not around, but I also ALWAYS want to be around! When he gets home I know I make him upset, and it kills me to know that I do. I want to be all tied up like a pretzel with him every time we are home together. I never want space, or to allow him space. I know I am wrong, but I can’t control myself. When we are not wrapped up together, I get depressed, even if he is right next to me.. although it is far worse when we are apart. Recently I feel more and more like my relationship is going to end and he is going to leave me if I don’t stop, but I just can’t! I am leaving tomorrow for a ten day business trip and I have never been away from him for that long since the day we got together. Ever since I found out I would be leaving my ASAD has become so much worse. I can’t get horrible thoughts out of my head and I am dreading the worst all the time. My husband tells me I need to stop, I need to be happy, but I just can’t compose myself sometimes! I am being ridiculous with my actions and I want to stop! I want to be healthy and normal! My father is a drug addict and warned me in a letter about having an addictive personality. The only thing I am addicted to is my husband. He told me I need to stop being so “obsessed” and he is right. I have never been an insecure person until I met my husband. I am constantly comparing myself to other women and telling myself that they have better traits than I do and hoping my husband doesn’t think so too. I get upset when we watch movies on seperate couches! And also when we watch movies with nudity, because I think, “I bet he wishes I looked like that” or “I hope he doesn’t leave me for someone like her”. I am fine when I watch movies with nudity alone, I just don’t like thinking of him watching them. I have had many emotional outbursts lately and they are getting extreme. I know my marriage will be on the line if I don’t stop! I just don’t know how. I love my husband more than anything in the world and I cannot imagine life without him. He is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I want to have kids now, and I think that urgency might come from wanting something that needs me. He wants to wait, and really I know I do too, we have so much we want to do before that day comes. He has given me so much to try to make me happy. I don’t know what is going to happen to me when tomorrow comes. Ten days seems like an eternity to me. I have been telling myself, and hoping that maybe this will be a good thing, maybe when I get home he will want to be around me and close to me just as much as I do him, but I know it will not be that easy for me. I don’t know what to do. I know I need to be happy for him, but my ASAD is taking control of all of my emotions. It upsets me that he doesn’t think the same way as I do, even though I know there is something wrong with me. I want him to miss me as much as I miss him. I want him to be sad that I’m leaving, but he handles everything so well! Just as I should! I know, if I can control myself, we will spend the rest of our lives together, and that should be enough for me! But, it’s just not, and I need it to be. I need to control myself, my ASAD. I love my husband too much to cause him pain, and I know I shouldn’t be doing this to myself.

distraught son January 3, 2011, 3:55 am

I too have felt the effects of looking too far into symptoms and their causes on the internet. I’ve read myself into a panic attack more than once doing that. I truly believe however that i suffer from this condition. I’m 24 years old and have been diagnosed with a chemical imbalance when i was 16. I worked hard and eventually and gradually i overcame that rough time in my life. I’ve recently (relatively) lost my grandmother and my cat that i both loved very much. It seems to have brought mortality to my attention (oblivious before i know). I find myself worried and scared ( incredibly so) of losing my parents, brother, best friend and other 2 kittens. I find myself thinking of what i would do if i ever lost one or all of them and it scares me into a panic attack everytime. I am so close to them all that i really have no idea what i would do without any one of them much less all of them. I really feel like i wouldn’t survive. every symptom listed here i have experienced more than once. The worrying comes and goes and i find some solace to know that this is a disorder and not just me being obsessive and crazy. I’ve confided these facts to my family and they all understand, my mom said she went through this herself around my age. I also know that some worry about this at some point in life is necessary and normal but i fear for how long it will be so dominant in my mind and day to day life. I just love my family so much.

Freesebaby March 2, 2011, 3:41 pm

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do -Eleanor Roosevelt.

Whatever your insecurities are or the things that make you feel like you’re clingy or “crazy” are rooted in fear. There are so many things we fear but knowing that we will be ok “if” and/or “when” those things that we fear happen is the only thing that will set us free. Fear breeds anger, manipulation and control. The opposite of fear is faith-it is knowing that you will be alright with everything or with nothing. We are much stronger than we think we are!

inthedark April 9, 2011, 10:51 am

Finally, an enlightening article that helps me understand why my daughter rarely allows her children (two teenagers and one younger child) to have experiences without her. She panics if they are out of her sight, with the exception of school. She does not allow any overnight visits with grandparents. The family unit is so close it sometimes feels like a sect bonded together against outside influences.

What began as puzzlement on my part…and hurt at being kept at arms’ length from grandchildren… now has a name thanks to your articles, i.e., adult separation disorder. My daughter takes medication to control panic disorder, but the symptoms of panic disorder didn’t seem to include separation anxiety with regard to one’s children. I now believe there may be co-morbidity involved, both panic disorder and separation anxiety disorder.

I worry how these parental disorders will ultimately affect the children, all three of whom seem extraordinarily affectionate towards their mother and compliant with her restrictions on their lives. (The father also defers to the mother and supports the limitations she places on the children. I witness him rationalizing the behaviors as in the children’s best interests. When questioned about the wisdom of such hovering behavior, he calls it simply the style of parenting they have chosen.) It is my hope that they will grow into well adjusted adults despite the mother’s illness.

I am wondering what the children’s chances for a productive life are and whether there is anything grandparents can do to help the parents. Will these children be OK?

feels pathetic June 6, 2011, 3:28 am

I am 19 years old. I have recently gotten married in March, and I love my husband dearly. We are expecting our first child in December, and we are very excited about it.
I have noticed my whole life that I have suffered from separation anxiety. My mother also notices it as well. My parents divorced when I was about two years old. I was a very sick child so, all I had for awhile looking after me was my mom. I became so attached to her which I am sure I was attached before age two. I was her baby, and she was my world. My grandmother owned a daycare :her mother: So when she left me with my meme during the day I was okay because I was very attached to her parents as well. They were actually the only people she could leave me with. When I got to be about five years old my dad started keeping me every other weekend opposed to before Id stay with my mother’s parents when he had my sister on his visitation. Anyway, every other weekend he picked me up I can remember screaming because I didn’t want to go. Nothing against my dad I love him too. I just wanted my mother. At night it would get so bad sometimes he would actually have to take me to her, and I know this bothered her because she never could get a break. I was always right there with her. To this day I don’t know what I was so afraid of I just wanted my mom. This was so bad that I slept in the same bed with her until I was twelve years old, and she finally made me sleep alone. The first week wasn’t pleasant for me, but over time I got used to it.
Now, I am 19 years old and have recently left home with both my grandparents and my mother (not in the same home) they are just both where I call home. I am suffering from insomnia I can’t sleep, and I think it bothers my husband. Not that he is mad at me, I think I make him feel like I don’t want or need him. The problem is I still want my mom or her parents because that is home to me. I cry at night because I don’t feel at home and I miss my mom. I think the reason I am still suffering from the same disorder is because it was never treated. In therapy my therapist didn’t approach this problem, Instead she focused on other problems I have had which was good because now I have over come this problem that had a huge impact on my life. I just thought I would out grow the neediness of both my mother and her parents. I thought as I got older it would go away and I would be more comfortable living with my husband, but I am not comfortable. It is 1:46am and I am crying to go “home” while my husband sleeps because he has work in a few hours. I am supposed to be home with my husband and our child that I am carrying. BUT…I don’t feel at home, which is very strange even to me. I know it’s strange to others but it’s even weird to me, and I am the one with the problem. I am to the point I do not know what to do. It’s always been pretty bad I have never been able to stay the night with a friend, I would get “home sick” and go home. Since I have been married every night I go through it… where I want to go to my safe place “home” most nights I get over it when my husband reassures me I am home and he loves me.
Now, that I am pregnant…I got pregnant at the beginning of april so we were married like a week and a half when i conceived but we didn’t find out until april 25th. Anyway. back to the point. Since I have been pregnant my “problem” ( That’s what I call it) has only gotten worse. I want my mother!!!!! Not just to go “home” to her or her parents. Now, I want her all the time. It’s really sad how dependent I am upon her. I have a husband and I should want my husband to be with me through my pregnancy, and I do want him to be. I just want my mother to be here too!
I avoid calling her on a daily basis and I don’t usually answer if she calls during the week because I don’t want her to know how pathetic I am. So, I avoid it all together. I usually talk to her on the weekends, and I see her mostly on Sunday’s. But I know she can tell that I need her. For some reason I feel like I need her here with me…. I don’t understand why I am so needy. I am an adult with a child on the way, and I still cry for my mother. I feel pathetic, and crazy. I actually feel like a crazy person. It is getting so bad that I dont know what to do.
I’m not completely sure if having a baby is what is making my “problem” worse than it was before, but I feel strongly that it is. When I am in pain I want my mother. That’s just how it’s always been and I think that’s why during my pregnancy my “problem” is getting worse because I am in pain, and I am emotional.

I feel like my “problem” is going to ruin my marriage because of me still not feeling comfortable in our home. I am terrified that one day I will leave, and go “home.” I don’t want to leave my husband because I love him with all my heart. I love my child with all my heart, and I havent even seen her/him yet. I know I will be a wonderful mother and that’s why I haven’t really mentioned any concern about the baby. Although, I am sure some of you are concerned about what I am going to do with a child if I still want my mother, and I am grown.
I was raised in a daycare my entire life, therefore I worked in one as well, I am very good with children of all ages. I recently went to college for early childhood development. So, I know a lot about children and the way they grow and learn. I am a very loving person and I adore children!!! They seem to love me as well. I am not scared about having a baby because I know how to love and take care of a child. This baby is already my shinning star! (: he/she is the light of my life and I can not wait for he/she to arrive.
Thank you for the information you have giving me on this! It has been very helpful and the comments are very helpful as well. I am so releved to know that I am not the only one suffering from this aniexty. I am going to start dealing with my “problem” through love and theaphy. (: thank you so much for allowing me to comment. this website really helped me!!

patricia July 16, 2011, 1:41 pm

I am a 60 yr.old woman married with two adult children and 3 grandchildren. Every time my son and his family spend time with us on vacation I go through a terrible time with I just found out is Adult Seperation Anxiety. I guess I can say that I now have a name for it and that I’m not the only one with the disorder. my dr. gave me atavan but I only need them every so often. I have tried to reason them away but to no avail.

I had a childhood where half the time I would be in charge of my 2 brothers and 1 sister my mother was unstable and there was drinking from my father. I do remember having panic attacks when it came time for school to start never knowing if someone was going to be there or not.. One of the comments I read explains that home or the person is someplace where you feel safe. It is so true for me as long as I’m in my own house and able to get to my kids in a short period of time I’m ok.
It just seems so crazy and you would think that a smart person could figure this out, the thing is we have the knowledge but still don’t know why or how to fix this.

People don’t ubderstand that is almost so you think at time stupid you hold thw feelings in and the it gets to be Aa full blown panic attack.
I would greatly like to hear from someothers who suffer from this diorder maybe I can try with the help of other to understand why I have to be so different and not be able to help my self.
apperciate any suggestions.

patricia July 16, 2011, 1:46 pm

i forgot to mention the attacks happen when my son and thid family leave to go home. The feeling I describe is that of the word alone taking on a whole new meaning and becoming ALONE even though there are people all around you.
thanks

Karla September 4, 2011, 3:55 pm

Does ASAD have to be with a person? My husband is a hoarder and has extreem anxiety if anything in the house is moved or thrown away. It is as if a part of him is being amputated if it is out of the house.

Colleen December 23, 2011, 5:45 am

Unfortunately for me, I think I have you all beat on the severity this condition can escalate to! I’m 51 yrs. old. Divorced over 20 years. Raised 3 children on my own…however, through the single mom years, I always kept someone (sister or mother) to guide me…or was it just to have someone to boss me around…I guess to make decisions for me really. But up when my children were raised and on their own, it escalated…this attachment disorder! Now, I am bouncing from one adult child to another…literally living with whomever will take me. I hate myself for it. My children turned out so well, considering I was so afraid for them ALL THE TIME! And deep bouts of depression etc. etc. A few months ago, I wanted to end my life. My children thought I wanted to leave me, but NO I DIDN’T…you see I wanted to get out of their way. I can’t function like a normal adult, I never could. But when I was responsible for my children I must have loved them enough to keep plugging along. But now I can’t keep a job…and I don’t even want to try to work. And that’s so selfish and yet I keep avoiding making a life separate from my childrne. I know this disorder I have came from having been raised by a Malignant Narcisstic Mother and an Alcholic Father…not to mention being the baby of 9 children. But what about now? What can the future hold for me? There is no help for this…well, none that I can think of. I’ve always known how my “issues” have robbed me of a life of my own… and I’ve just got a diagnosis for it after coming across this blog. But what now? How do we fix this disorder? Anyone find any resources yet?

Cecilia April 27, 2012, 12:56 pm

Well, I guess I am the oldest one at 66 years of age that finally heard about” Separation Anxiety” and what it’s all about. I say heard because my therapist had mentioned it more than several times,but it wasn’t clicking. I’m one of 12 and was abused as a child at a very early age. Been in therapy for many years over 20 and would always go through changes when she left for vacation or couldn’t come in. It was all about me being left alone and her not careing, but I knew in my heart that she did. My head did a great job in convincing me that she didn’t have time and didn’t care. But the heart and head were not speaking or communicating with each other.
I remember as a child my mom leaving the house to go somewhere and I would carry on terrible until she got back. As I got older I had freinds that I became close to, that when they left to go somewhere for a length of time I couldn’t deal . I would become depressed and lonely.
I know I am a screwed up person. I have several alternates within me that have showed themselves over the years, that I didn’t know until I started addressing myself in the third person.
So when my therapist mentioned “Separation Anxiety” this week after she had been away for a week. I was feeling I just wanted to die than to keep going through this pain.
I found your blog and was glad to see and read some of the same things I am going through. I liked what the young lady said about “Self Soothing”. That is something I think most of us don’t do, because we don’t think we are lovable. I can’t wait until tomorrow to talk with my therapist about what I finally heard.
That it is a brain issuse. Hoping she can help me turn my thinking process around. I wouldn’t wish this on any one. Thanks you for your Blog

Kristen April 29, 2012, 2:40 am

I am 25 years old and I am married to a wonderful man. My mom and I have always been close but about 6 years ago she got re-married and moved away. When her marriage went sour she moved back home. Our relationship seemed to pick right back up where we left off. I started to find myself attached but nothing out of the ordinary! It hasn’t been until about the last year and a half that I have become severely extreme! I feel the need to call her every hour just to make sure she is okay! If she doesn’t pick up, I panic. I have left my house in the middle of the night to go find her! I will call over and over until she answers! I look forward to the nights my husband has to work so I can stay the night with my mom. I feel like if I am with her, nothing had will happen! If I don’t know where she is at I automatically feel something terrible has happened! Thankfully my husband is a very patient man and understands I don’t know what to do to control this issue! For the first time ever I feel like I am not alone! This post made me feel like this may be what I have! I don’t know where else to turn but I know I need to get this under control!!!!

patricia July 13, 2012, 2:51 pm

Well it’s vacation time again my daughter and her family just left I took my meds. but in my head I still can’t figure out why this always happens. You feel so out of control and your personality seems so bizzare it’s very difficult for other people to understand this, I know it has something to do with my childhood and being the mother to my brothers and sister all the time and even at times to my parents.
It’s ashame that people really look at you weird when you try to explain seperation anxiety and that you suffer from it. Is it love, is it obsession or is it just we don’t want to be alone. I feel the word alone takes on a whole different meaning when you feel this anxiety. Every word and feeling is exaggerated and Seems to be capitalized. My son and his familiy are still with us so Sunday will be another day with feelings of seperation that are to some people out of control. My husband really dosen’t understand but is getting a little more patient. Does this condition ever get under control do we ever get to be normal again I don’t know but at least I can somewhat vent here.
Thanks for listining

Patricia June 23, 2013, 2:02 pm

I’m glad that this conversation with myself in some small helped you. I have struggled my whole life with anxiety just didn’t have a name for it and people never talked about it. We’re not crazy just to emotional and don’t know how to control these feelings. Good luck and this site does give us an outlet where other people understand us.

BB July 27, 2013, 4:24 pm

Both parents committed suicide before I was sixteen. I have recurring dreams that my teeth are falling out, or I am suddenly naked in public. I am in my 50’s now and seeing a counselor on a weekly basis. I have uncontrollable fear and anxiety about her dying or leaving. I know I cannot see her the rest of my life, so parting is inevitable. I burst into profuse crying when other counselors leave. My friends over the years have relocated and I make no attempt to find new friends, so I am quite isolated now. I am glad to read today that the DSM V realizes ASAD exists and included it in this update.

Patricia July 27, 2013, 4:37 pm

Now that you have found this site you do have people that support you. I tend to be a loner too. At least I have this outlet to voice my feelings and know that I am not alone or crazy.

frankiegrrl2 April 22, 2014, 12:30 am

I have always had Separation Anxiety, for as long as I can remember, I hated sleepovers, I hate when my mom goes on vacation. I have panic attacks at the thought of being without her. She is going on a cruise, which I hate with my dad, brother, and sister-in-law. I always talk to her if I panic so the thought makes it worse. Intelligently, I know I’ll be fine, but I can’t get over that hump of anxiety that kills me. I feel better knowing that there are others like me.

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