Why Long-Term Separation From Parents Harms Kids


Published:

Children are often sad when separated from their parents for a short time, but the effects are pronounced if the separation is long.

As a society, we often wax eloquent about how important it is to nurture, support and protect our children. The sad reality, however, is that all too often major, life-changing decisions are made without any consideration of their potential lifelong and devastating impact on kids.

Case in point: children separated from their parents at borders as new immigration policies are debated. Separation from parents for even short periods can cause anxiety disorders that can last a long time.

I wish to underscore that my explanation here is apolitical. Instead, I am writing as a child and adolescent psychiatrist, parent, and member of our society, who would prefer that we be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to protecting vulnerable children at high risk for separation anxiety disorder and other emotional and behavior problems.

Separation anxiety disorder is a disorder that is marked by unusually strong, and clinically significant, fear and distress related to separation from the home, a parent or other attachment figure. The fear and distress exceed levels appropriate for the individual’s age and developmental level, and lasts at least four weeks in children.

Symptoms can include persistent fears of parents being killed or kidnapped, worries about a parent getting sick and being afraid to go to school. Abdominal pain, nausea and other physical symptoms are also common.

Uncertainty and pathological doubting can dominate. These children with separation anxiety disorder never get the “all clear signal” that they or their loved ones are safe unless they are physically together. Even then, safety is precarious as there is always the risk for future separation.

Low socioeconomic status, a family history of anxiety or depression, and other environmental, hereditary and genetic factors appear to increase the risk of developing separation anxiety disorder. However, some of the most common precipitants of separation anxiety symptoms are stress, trauma or a sudden change in environment, such as a divorce or death in the family, a move to a new house or school, or from being forcibly separated from a parent or loved one.

It is important to point out that it is perfectly normal for young children to experience separation anxiety. It is a normal developmental milestone. For example, it is common for young children to get nervous and scared when their parent leaves and says goodbye.

This usually gets better in children as they get older, but in about 4-5 percent of children and adolescents separation anxiety persists and requires therapeutic intervention.

Treatment for separation anxiety disorder includes therapy, reassurance of the child and caregivers, and psychoeducation to provide the family with information about this disorder and the available treatment services that they can receive. However, medication may also be required for severe cases.

Separation anxiety disorder also increases the risk for developing depression, other anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, and a dependent personality disorder in adulthood.

While it is true that children can be resilient and either persevere or recover, it is never easy and the hidden scars remain.

David Rosenberg, M.D., is chair of the department of psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences at Wayne State University. The Miriam L. Hamburger Endowed chair of child psychiatry and professor of psychiatry, Dr. Rosenberg is a 15-year veteran of the school of medicine faculty and the department.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

See also:
Indigenous People Invented The So-Called ‘American Dream’
How Yoga Is Helping Girls Heal From Trauma

The Conversation

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Daily Astrology

July 21, 2018

Soothing trends make for sound sleep and good dreams. Night owls find themselves pleasantly wandering between worlds of dreamy idealism and creative inspiration. As the new day dawns the Scorpio Moon is harmonizing with Pluto in Capricorn. Chores are…
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Alternative Health Directory

Browse all listings »

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

July 2018

Join us for a monthly gathering of like-hearted people to give and receive angelic energy healing. This session is a combination of group meditation and discussion, along with working in pairs...

Cost: Scale $5-$20 ($10 suggested)

Where:
Pathway Of Joy
884 Broadway, Suite 12
Upstairs in the Spiritual Renaissance Center building
South Portland, ME  04106
View map »


Sponsor: Pathway Of Joy
Telephone: 207-329-7192
Contact Name: Linda Huitt
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

This special 2-part evening offering. Earn your Integrated Energy Therapy® certification in two evenings, while leaving your summer days and weekends open to enjoy the season. Part 1 is...

Cost: $195

Where:
Pathway Of Joy
884 Broadway, Suite 12
South Portland, ME  04106
View map »


Sponsor: Pathway Of Joy
Telephone: 207-329-7192
Contact Name: Linda Huitt
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

What better way to end a busy day than with a little bliss. We'll support your body right where it is today and help you to open your spine to find more movement and flexibility. Begin and end...

Cost: $18

Where:
Body Love Wellness Center
484 Bedford St
East Bridgewater, MA  02333
View map »


Sponsor: Bliss Through Yoga
Telephone: 508-331-3564
Contact Name: Janice
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Relax and restore this summer with free outdoor yoga classes on historic Rogers Field! We’re packing the lawn with yogis of all levels for yoga led by experienced practitioners from Dragonfly...

Cost: Free

Where:
Rogers Field
Devens, MA


Sponsor: Dragonfly Wellness Center
Telephone: 978-487-7181
Contact Name: Anne Ferguson
Website »

More information

If you are worried about getting Parkinson’s or have beginning symptoms, check out a free intro on how to rewire your brain from the inside. First and third Wednesdays of the month,...

Where:
, MA


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Please note this event is held at an off-site location at the Double Tree Hilton in Danvers, MA There will be a book signing following the mediumship demonstration, and as part of your ticket...

Cost: $45

Where:
Double Tree Hotel
50 Ferncroft Road
Danvers, MA  01923
View map »


Sponsor: Circles of Wisdom
Telephone: 978-474-8010
Contact Name: Cathy Kneeland
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

July 20 - 22 The Chinese internal martial arts derive their extraordinary power from the conscious control of one’s subjective state-of-being and the use of jin (internal power)....

Cost: Please see our website

Where:
Eastover Estate & Retreat Center
430 East St.
Lenox, MA  01240
View map »


Telephone: 866-264-5139
Contact Name: Yingxing Wang
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The mission of the 4th Annual Compassionfest is to unite like-minded people that believe in the values of being just, kindness, equality and compassion. We’ll gather for delicious vegan food...

Cost: Free

Where:
Whitneyville Cultural Commons
1253 Whitney Ave
Hamden, CT  06517
View map »


Sponsor: In Defense of Animals
Website »

More information

Saturday, July 21, 10:00am – 4:00pm & Sunday, July 22, 10am – 4:00pm With Patty Collinsworth Get the beginner certification before Linda Howe comes in person to teach a new...

Cost: $170

Where:
Circles of Wisdom
90 Main Street
Andover, MA  01810
View map »


Sponsor: Circles of Wisdom
Telephone: 978-474-8010
Contact Name: Cathy Kneeland
Website »

More information

Saturday, July 21, 10:00am – 5:30pm & Sunday, July 22, 10am – 3:30pm Instructor:  Peyton Pugmire What brings you joy and a sense of purpose?  These are your soul...

Cost: $160

Where:
Creative Spirit
80 Washington Street
Marblehead, MA  01945
View map »


Sponsor: Creative Spirit
Telephone: 617-817-4547
Website »

More information

July 21 - 22 NEMHoFest, is New England’s premiere metaphysical festival. This year’s line-up includes world renowned guest speakers and vendors from across the...

Where:
Augusta Civic Center
Augusta, ME


Website »

More information

The GFAF Expos are the greatest events on earth for those living a gluten-free or allergen-friendly lifestyle. Sample hundreds of products, meet with local and national brands, receive coupons and...

Where:
DCU Center
50 Foster Street
Worcester, MA
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags