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Separation Anxiety Disorder Causes

(Also Known As: Anxiety Disorder Causes, Separation Anxiety Causes, Anxiety Causes, Child Anxiety Disorder Causes)

(Reviewed by: Paul Peterson, Licensed Therapist)

What Causes Separation Anxiety Disorder?

Like most mental health conditions, an anxiety disorder is likely triggered by a combination of genetic and environmental factors rather than by an individual cause. The condition is more likely in children with a background of anxiety in their families. The 2007 Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry reported that mothers who experienced stress during their pregnancy are likely to bear children who have anxiety disorders. 3

The following factors can likewise contribute to the development of anxiety disorders among children:

  • Changes in the environment. Anxiety disorders often results from changes or stressors in the life and daily routine of the child. This may include relocation, death or sickness of a close family member or relative or favorite pet, entering a new school, trauma, or going back to school after summer vacation.
  • Hereditary Factors. There is proof that anxiety disorders in children are genetically linked to parents who have a history of panic disorder, anxiety, or depression. Infants with anxious temperaments may be prone to developing anxiety disorders in their later years.
  • Parent/Child Attachment. The degree of attachment between parents and their child may have an influence in the development of anxiety disorders. If the child feels that they will be emotionally separated from the parent, their behavior may be geared towards drawing their parents closer to them. As a result, other personalities would come into the picture as well.
  • Developmental Factors. Children have varying rates of development when gauged against each other. Likewise, it also varies within the individual across various kinds of functioning. A slower development rate in the intellectual, physical, social, and emotional aspect can lead to anxiety disorder.
  • Cognitive Factors. Children have the tendency to have persistent fears. These thoughts are repeated within the mind of the child until it reaches the point that the child can no longer control these emotions. Eventually, these fears begin to dominate their thoughts, which can lead to the development of anxiety disorders.
  • Behavioral Considerations. As the child attempts to cling to the affection of their parents, they develop anxiety with their feelings towards other people, environment, or situations. This may serve as a form of distraction away from the negative feelings of the child. Such behavior often becomes their mode of expressing their anxiety.
  • Stress Factors and Influence. Anxiety disorders can be aggravated by a change in routine, lack of sufficient rest, sickness, relocation, or changes in the structure of the family. The symptoms may also be impacted by changes in the caregiver or response of the parents such as discipline, accessibility, and daily routine. Even if the change is favorable, the child may become uncomfortable, which can lead to anxiety disorders.

Could You Have Separation Anxiety Disorder?

Separation Anxiety Disorder Topics

Related Conditions

Anxiety Disorder NOS – pathological fears, anxiousness, stress, exhaustion
Dependent Personality Disorder – psychological dependence on others, submissiveness, dependency
Generalized Anxiety Disorder – irrational worry, anxiety, depression, excessive anxiousness
Social Anxiety Disorder – social phobia, fear of humiliation or embarrassment, abnormal distress, chronic fear