Johns Hopkins Psychiatry Guide

Separation Anxiety Disorder

Kelly Drake, Ph.D., Golda S. Ginsburg, Ph.D.
Separation Anxiety Disorder is a topic covered in the Johns Hopkins Psychiatry Guide.

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DEFINITION

  • Separation anxiety disorder (SAD) is a common, treatable anxiety disorder characterized by excessive fear and anxiety about being away from attachment figures (such as parents) or home.
  • Youth with SAD avoid separation situations (e.g., refusing to attend school, sleep alone, or be left with a babysitter), worry about the safety of self and/or attachment figures, and experience physical symptoms of anxiety (e.g., stomachaches and headaches).
  • Adults with SAD also avoid separation situations, which may include avoiding going away to college or separating from their spouse/children.

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Last updated: October 22, 2014