Separation Anxiety Disorder

Separation Anxiety Disorder (SAD) is characterized by a child’s extreme unwillingness to separate from a parent, other attachment figures, or the home.

In order to be diagnosed with SAD, the child must experience these feelings for at least 4 weeks.

  • Rates of SAD decrease into adolescence.
  • 4% of children and young adolescents have SAD.


  • When separated from attachment figures (e.g. parents), children with SAD often must know exactly where their loved ones are
  • Many children become homesick and are unable to stay away from home (i.e. difficulty attending school or camp or going over to friend’s houses)
  • Children may also fear that they or their attachment figure will get sick or injured
  • Children often have a hard time sleeping alone and experience nightmares

Children may complain of physical symptoms during a separation situation including:

  • Stomach aches
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Dizziness