Adult Separation Anxiety Disorder?

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I need some help! I believe I am suffering from adult separation anxiety disorder. Every time my fiancee goes to work I become extremely upset and begin to cry. I always feel like something awful is going to happen to him when he’s away from me. At times, I even get upset when he so much as leaves the room. I have had no recent life changes, but his working schedule has changed. We are on opposite schedules and are no longer able to sleep in the same bed(which has caused a serious lack of sleep on both our parts). I just can’t take this constant feeling of dread any more Someone help!

A: I’m sure this is very distressing to you both. You don’t like your opposite schedule but feel helpless to change it. So your unconscious is putting up a huge protest. Here’s the thing about anxiety. Once a person gets really anxious and upset about something, it’s not at all unusual for her to get anxious about the anxiety — which will make you all the more anxious. It can spiral out of control. That may be what is happening here.

I strongly suggest that you see your doctor about getting some anti-anxiety medication to help break the cycle of anxiety about anxiety. Then, please, see a counselor to help you develop some better coping skills for dealing with this difficult situation. Meanwhile, maybe you and your fiancee can take another look at the opposing schedule and figure out a way for you to have more time together. If you go at the problem directly, your psyche may not need to go at it indirectly with these anxiety attacks.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 27 Dec 2010

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2010). Adult Separation Anxiety Disorder?. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 21, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/12/27/adult-separation-anxiety-disorder/