Separation Anxiety Disorder is a type of anxiety disorder whereby a person suffers from excessive anxiety brought about by being far from home or people with whom the victim has strong emotional attachment. Among adults, individuals with separation anxiety disorder (SAD) experience the fear of being separated from people with whom they have strong emotional attachment such as their children or family members (Hu et al. 2020).
Some of the symptoms of SAD are; excessive and repetitive distress regarding anticipation of being distant from home or loved ones, repudiating to leave home because of fear of being separated from the place and the people that one loves, always wanting to be at home with other family members or the loved ones, constant repetitive nightmares about being separated and frequent headache and stomachaches. The condition may occur as a result of losing a loved one, life stress or even genetically inherited. SAD is diagnosed when there are excessive symptoms that cause significant distress hindering normal daily function (Möller & Bögels 2016).
Dowsett, Delfabbro & Chur-Hansen (2020) article examines SAD among adults with a key focus on human-animal connection. Deducing from DSM-V, separation anxiety can take place at any age. The article explores whether the disorder can take place when people are separated from animal companions (Möller & Bögels 2016).
A sample of 313 participants was used to gather and analyze data. Inclusion criteria required that the participants should be living with either a cat or a dog. Separation anxiety was examined in association to both animals and animals that were regarded as companions by using the severity measure for SAD. The questionnaire was self-administered. The participants were then required to complete the survey which included 10 items on a five-point linkert scale (Dowsett, Delfabbro & Chur-Hansen 2020).
Findings from the study show that there is notable positive relationships between humans and separation anxiety. Also, it was observed that individuals with higher separation anxiety from animals also noted less social support and higher attachment anxiety incorporating humans. Individual’s substitution was also found to be positively associated with higher animal associated separation anxiety. Another observation was that there was minimal association when the principal companion animal was cats. Participants who did not have children reported notably less attachment associated avoidance of humans or rather less perceived social support. A conclusion made by the researchers is that there is a strong positive relationship between human associated SAD and animal associated separation anxiety. Separation anxiety is also stronger for individuals who have low degrees of social support (Dowsett, Delfabbro & Chur-Hansen 2020).
According to the attachment theory, bonds can be formed and develop to an instance whereby relationships influence subsequent development (Fearon & Roisman 2017). Therefore, the society ought to understand the significance of building healthy relationships while taking into consideration that attachment can also have its negative outcomes. Therefore, it is important to teach people, especially children on how to manage separation in case they are away from their loved ones. Since research has confirmed that separation anxiety disorder is not solely brought about due to separation from human companions, it is good to watch out not to fall victims of separation anxiety from things such as pets or even the internet and other technological gadgets.
Dowsett, E., Delfabbro, P., & Chur-Hansen, A. (2020). Adult separation anxiety disorder: The human-animal bond. Journal of Affective Disorders.
Fearon, R. P., & Roisman, G. I. (2017). Attachment theory: progress and future directions. Current Opinion in Psychology, 15, 131-136.
Hu, Y., Cai, Y., Tu, D., Guo, Y., & Liu, S. (2020). Development of a Computerized Adaptive Test for Separation Anxiety Disorder Among Adolescents. Frontiers in Psychology, 11.
Möller, E. L., & Bögels, S. M. (2016). The DSM‐5 Dimensional Anxiety Scales in a Dutch non‐clinical sample: psychometric properties including the adult separation anxiety disorder scale. International journal of methods in psychiatric research, 25(3), 232-239.