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- Separation anxiety disorder facts
- What is separation anxiety disorder?
- What are separation anxiety disorder symptoms and signs?
- What are causes and risk factors for separation anxiety disorder?
- How is separation anxiety disorder diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for separation anxiety disorder?
- What happens if separation anxiety disorder is left untreated?
- Is it possible to prevent separation anxiety disorder?
- Where can I find more information on separation anxiety disorder?
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What are causes and risk factors for separation anxiety disorder?
Separation anxiety disorder (as with most mental-health conditions) is likely caused by the combination of genetic and environmental vulnerabilities rather than by any one thing.
In addition to being more common in children with family histories of anxiety, children whose mothers were stressed during pregnancy with them tend to be more at risk for developing this disorder.
A majority of children with separation anxiety disorder have school refusal as a symptom and up to 80% of children who refuse school qualify for the diagnosis of separation anxiety disorder. Approximately 50%-75% of children who suffer from this disorder come from homes of low socioeconomic status.
How is separation anxiety disorder diagnosed?
Health-care professionals who have training and experience understanding symptoms of children and adolescents are usually the most qualified to assess separation anxiety disorder. The assessment most often involves a pediatrician and child psychologist, child psychiatrist, or other mental-health professional interviewing both the child and his or her parent(s) when assessing separation anxiety disorder. Those interviews often take place separately to allow everyone to speak freely. This is particularly important given how differently children and their parents may see the situation and how difficult it can be for children to hear their problems discussed. In addition to asking about specific symptoms of anxiety, the professional will likely explore whether the child has symptoms of any other mental-health issues and will recommend that the child receive a full physical examination and lab work to ensure that there is no medical reason for the issues the child is experiencing.