Adult separation anxiety disorder (ASAD) can be a very difficult anxiety disorder to live with…both for the person who has it and for the person they’re “attached” to. This is because when these two people spend time away from each other, the one with the disorder can be very uncomfortable and irritable and when they are together, the other person can feel suffocated by the person with the disorder.
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If you suffer from ASAD, you may be “attached” to your spouse, a friend, a relative, a particular place, or even your child. All this attention on the other person can cause them to feel extremely uncomfortable in your presence. Sadly, a lot of times these relationships do not survive because of their unbalanced nature.
An affected adult thinks and believes that some type of harm will come to the person to whom they’re attached if they’re not together, so they develop strategies and ways to maintain a close connection with them. If they sense they might be separated, they face the risk of having a panic attack.
Even though adult separation anxiety disorder was only discovered to be a mental disorder in the 1990s, it’s estimated that about 6.6% of adults in the United States suffer from this disorder. That’s nearly 15 million adults in just the United States, so you can see this is not a rare disorder.
If you suffer from this disorder, it should be a little comforting to realize you’re not the only person who has it…6.6% of the adult population of the United States is about twice the population of New York City!
Adult separation anxiety disorder is not a disorder that’s unique to childhood, nor is it the same as separation anxiety. Separation anxiety is a normal stage of development for infants which starts at around eight months of age and lasts until 13 to 15 months or so.
Most cases of adult separation anxiety disorder begin in the late teens or early twenties…nearly 80% of all cases begin by age 30. More women than men suffer from ASAD, but men are more likely than women to have their first bout of ASAD in adulthood.
There is a connection with childhood because about one-third of adults with adult separation anxiety disorder had a case of childhood separation disorder that began in their youth. Most adults with ASAD had their first experience with it as an adult.
ASAD Affects You in Three Main Areas of Life
- Marital status
- Educational achievement
- Employment status
Because these are three of the most important areas of a person’s life, it’s obvious that getting treatment for this disorder is extremely important. The majority of sufferers of this disorder are separated, widowed, or divorced; they have less than a high school education; and they are either unemployed or employed in low-wage, non-traditional occupations.