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Separation Anxiety Disorder Treatments

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

(Reviewed by: Paul Peterson, Licensed Therapist)

What Kinds of Separation Anxiety Disorder Treatments are Available?

Counseling, instead of medication, is the preferred intervention for treating anxiety. Behavioral therapy is used to target the behavioral symptoms of the child suffering from separation anxiety. It is designed to be more efficient and less burdensome to the child if the behavior is addressed in a positive manner instead of negative. There is no punishment for continuing to suffer from the symptoms, but instead the child is rewarded for overcoming the symptoms.

Cognitive therapy is designed to help the child focus their thoughts on the positive things, despite their anxiety. By helping them focus on the positive, the child suffering from separation anxiety disorder will be open to learning strategies to manage their anxiety, such as playing games, watching television, or listening to music.

Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and counting to 10 are also being used in and older children adolescents.

If psychotherapy is unsuccessful, or when the symptoms are so severe that they become debilitating, medication is regarded as a viable method of treating anxiety. However, as of 2008, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have not approved medication for treating anxiety. SSRIs have been proven to be effective in treating anxiety with fewer complications than the tricyclic antidepressants.

In systematic desensitization, the child is exposed to various events providing a greater degree of separation anxiety than the previous event. Beginning with the situation offering least anxiety, the child undergoes relaxation techniques or counter conditioning which could decrease the anxiety. When the child experiences minimal or zero anxiety to the stimulus, the therapist proceeds to the next separation anxiety producing event. 8

In the case of school refusal, treating anxiety would depend on how quick the child manifests the symptoms. If the child developed the symptoms quickly, the Kennedy method is the effective treatment intervention. Developed by Wallace Kennedy in 1965, the approach involves getting the child to school, keeping them there, and giving them positive reinforcement for attending the school and patterning appropriate behavior. In some cases, school refusal covers an extended period of time and various factors that play a role in the development of the symptoms.

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