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Why Do I Get Upset Whenever My Parents Leave?

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I feel like there could be some psychological reason as to why I get so upset whenever my parents leave for a few hours. Currently, I live at home with my parents but if they go out and don’t tell me where they’re going, it makes me very upset and I do get angry with them over it. I don’t know if this is related to them leaving me with my grandparents as a child to go to work every day (which usually made me cry a lot) or whether it’s something else?

Why Do I Get Upset Whenever My Parents Leave?

Answered by on -


There is a phenomenon called separation anxiety disorder that you can read about here. While I think your theory of why it is happening is a good one, there can be many features that can cause this reaction.

The essential feature of separation anxiety disorder is excessive anxiety concerning separation from those (in adolescents and adults) to whom the person is attached. This anxiety is beyond that which is expected for the individual’s developmental level. The fear, anxiety, or avoidance is persistent, lasting at least 4 weeks in children and adolescents and typically 6 months or more in adults. If yours has lasted for more than 6 months you may want to have an evaluation to properly diagnose this.

Children with separation anxiety disorder tend to come from families that are close-knit. When separated from home or major attachment figures, they may recurrently exhibit social withdrawal, apathy, sadness, or difficulty concentrating on work or play.

As you state your age as 18 you may want to connect with a therapist who practices Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This particular form of therapy can help with coping strategies that can be effective in calming this concern. The ‘find help’ section at the top of the page can help you find a therapist in your area. There are also other forms of treatment you can learn about here.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

Why Do I Get Upset Whenever My Parents Leave?

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2020). Why Do I Get Upset Whenever My Parents Leave?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 26, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 21 Aug 2020 (Originally: 24 Aug 2020)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 21 Aug 2020
Published on Psych All rights reserved.