Is Separation Anxiety Disorder More Common in Children or Adults?

A study that was published in The American Journal of Psychiatry found that separation anxiety disorder might be much more common in adults than it is in children. About 6.5 percent of adults are thought to have separation anxiety disorder, compared with about 4.1 percent of children. Adult Separation Anxiety Disorder (ASAD) is similar to separation anxiety in children, but the attachment usually is to a spouse or friend rather than to a parent. People who have ASAD feel an overwhelming fear or anxiety when they are separated from the person who is their object of attachment, and they are often unable to hold a job on a regular basis.

More facts about separation anxiety disorder:

  • People typically develop ASAD in their 20s, and only about 20 percent of people develop it after age 30.

  • Most people who have ASAD have been divorced, separated or widowed. Women are more likely to have ASAD than men, and those who have ASAD typically have completed less education than those who don't have ASAD.

  • About one-third of people who have ASAD had separation anxiety disorder as a child, and it developed into ASAD because it was never treated.
  • About 90 percent of people who have ASAD also have other psychiatric disorders. They are about five times more likely to have an anxiety disorder than non-ASAD sufferers, particularly post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), agoraphobia and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

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