Separation Anxiety Disorder

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

I’m 18 years old and I was home schooled until my sophomore year in high school. When I was in second grade my parents had to pull me out of school and home school me because I would throw up everyday before school and I would cry because I didn’t want to leave my mom. I would continually have nightmares that I would get kidnapped and so I slept every night in my moms bed until age 11. Once I was in high school my problem seemed to go away and I figured it was just me being a little kid. I remained fine until my senior year. I met a boy and we began dating. I didn’t really care that much about the relationship in the beginning and everything was fine. One night we went to a party and I had a psychological reaction to a synthetic drug. I went to the hospital and they let me go thinking I was physically ok. After that night my “fear” came back slowly. I started wanting to be around him all the time and wanting to spend the night at his house or having him come to my house. After we graduated we attended schools in the same town. I got an apartment with some of my friends I told everyone it was time for me to branch out, but the real reason was just so I could be closer to his dorm. I thought that would be enough but then I started wanting him to stay over all the time and I didn’t want him to go. And when he would say it was time for him to leave I would start sobbing and throwing up or shacking. I would do anything to make him stay there with me. He now lives with me and its still getting worse. It doesn’t seem to stop ever. If he talks about possibly going out of town for the weekend I freak out. If I don’t know where he is or he doesn’t answer my calls I get so scared and I begin to feel sick. I literally can’t stand this feeling, but I don’t know what I should do or how I can change this? Please help me.

A. You refer to this problem as separation anxiety disorder but a more accurate diagnosis may be dependent personality disorder. In order to determine what disorder, if any, you have, it would be best to consult a mental health professional who could interview you in person and gather a detailed biopsychosocial history of your life.

As you have described this problem, it is significantly hindering your life. It seems as though you struggle to have the confidence to be an independent person. Fortunately, you recognize that a problem exists and are willing to seek help. The prognosis for such an open-minded individual who is receptive to treatment is excellent.

Many people your age struggle with developing their identities and gaining their independence. You might struggle with this issue moreso than the average individual but it is still a correctable problem.

You also mentioned that you had a reaction to taking a “synthetic” drug. You did not detail that situation any further but that experience may have had a negative impact on your psychological state of mind.

My recommendation is to receive counseling. A mental health professional could assist you in addressing this problem. It is important to seek help sooner rather than later. The main reason is because this problem is interfering with many aspects of your life and if left untreated would likely continue. The find help tab, at the top of this page, could help you to locate a mental health professional in your community. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Nov 2011

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2011). Separation Anxiety Disorder. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 20, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/11/30/separation-anxiety-disorder/

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