Separation Anxiety (cont.)
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Separation Anxiety Treatment
The child or adolescent and his or her family, school staff, and primary-care physician should work together to design a plan to accomplish a gradual return to developmentally expected function in settings such as school, sports, and social events. It is very important to acknowledge the level of distress that the child or adolescent feels.
Utilizing positive reinforcement aids in encouraging the child's return to the feared situation and becoming comfortable with anticipated brief separations from parents and caregivers.
Cognitive-behavior therapy, including response prevention and exposure therapy has been shown to be effective, especially in helping the child or adolescent return to normal daily function.
Antianxiety medications may be effective but are not U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved for people younger than 18 years of age.
Bettina E Bernstein, DO
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According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV), separation anxiety is a fairly common anxiety disorder that consists of excessive anxiety beyond that expected for the child's developmental level related to separation or impending separation from the attachment figure (eg, primary caretaker, close family member) occurring in children younger than 18 years and lasting for at least 4 weeks.