6 Ways to Cope With Separation Anxiety

“What would happen if I lose this person?”

Has this thought ever made you lose your mind and panic?
How many of you spend a major chunk of your time worrying about your parents getting old? Anxiety while your spouse is travelling or sending your kid to school for the first time?

Separation anxiety among adults could be elicited when separated from people or articles of immense attachment. It could be your spouse, children, parents, pet, place or anything as small as a toy. One can not let go of that person or thing or place without experiencing extreme anxiety.

Causes:

  • Triggering event:
    Separation anxiety may kick in as a result of an event that elicited extreme fear in the past. For example, having to see a loved one struggle through a fatal sickness may lead to feeling anxious each time the person is away from us.

  • Poorly dealt childhood separation anxiety:
    Separation anxiety during early childhood is a sign of meeting a developmental milestone. However, this fear does need to be managed with care since, if not dealt with properly, it may get manifested in later stages of life and may grow bigger with time.

  • Family History of Anxiety:
    People with family history of any kind of anxiety are genetically more vulnerable to separation anxiety.

  • Excessive Dependency:
    When we depend too much on someone for any kind of assistance (financial or emotional), we tend to feel unprotected when we think of departing from them. Dependency also stops a person from being self-reliant that may lead to anxiety when kept away from the support system.

  • Adjustment failure:
    Very often we find ourselves struggling with a new place, a new house, or new set of people. It is because we have stepped out of our comfort zone in order to adjust. When are unable to do so, we start missing our old life and start getting clingy towards family members, have anger burst outs and sleepless nights.

Separation anxiety

 

Symptoms:

  • Behavioural Symptoms:

    • Frequently checking the whereabouts of the loved ones

    • Missing out on work

    • Social withdrawal

    • Ritualistic Behaviour

    • Avoiding leaving home

  • Physical Symptoms:

    • Headaches

    • Nervousness causing frequent urination

    • Disturbed sleep

    • Change in appetite

    • Nausea

  • Psychological Symptoms:

    • Ritualistic Thinking

    • Concentration problems

    • Guilt

    • Fear

    • Negative anticipations

 

Ways to cope:

  • Acknowledge your anxiety:
    The first step towards dealing with it is to acknowledge that your emotional receptors are way too sensitive. You are more prone to faulty perceptions that would lead to more anxiety.

  • Stay occupied:
    Avoid sitting alone and doing nothing as it would increase the scope of overthinking. Keep yourself busy with your favourite hobby, watch something good or be with friends.

  • Avoid seeking reassurances:
    When we seek reassurance, again and again, we increase our anxiety each time by wishing it to be not negative. Ask less, believe more!

  • Let go of the guilt:
    Leaving our loved ones for some time may take us on a guilt trip as we think that we are responsible for their well being and they must not be doing fine without you. Tell yourself that it is alright to take time out for other important things as well.

  • Rationalise negative thoughts:
    Whenever a negative thought comes to your mind (“My parents are getting old and would leave me after some years”), give yourself a rational explanation. Ask yourself what makes you feel so? It would help you shift your focus to all the reasons that would prove that your parents are fine and not going anywhere.

  • Seek professional help:
    If it bothers you often or affects your daily functioning, reach out to a counsellor instead of struggling with your thoughts

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