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

November 20, 2018

As the Aries Moon forms a late-morning opposition to Venus many folks overcome shyness and reach out for love, approval and affection. Due to testing angles from Pluto, motives may be suspect, so be sure to observe social norms. The Moon is also moving…
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Alternative Health Directory

Browse all listings »

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

November 2018

Join us and take your intuitive skills to the next level! The goal of this series is to create a sanctuary of learning and support where all can deepen their connection to spirit, stretch...

Cost: $45

Where:
Private Office
6 Royal Crest Drive
Apt 11
North Andover, MA  01845
View map »


Sponsor: Sacred Spiral Dance
Telephone: 978-973-6637
Contact Name: Diana Harris
Website »

More information

Celebrate and give thanks for harvest of the summers effort! We have a fun line up of readers and healers providing services at sampler rates to enjoy their services while you enjoy shopping...

Cost: $60—3 15 min. sessions (45 min total), $25—15 min. session

Where:
The Healing Power of Flowers—Heaven and Earth
68 Stiles Rd
Unit A
Salem, MA  03079
View map »


Sponsor: The Healing Power of Flowers—Heavven and Earth
Telephone: 603-275-7688
Contact Name: Stacey Smith
Website »

More information

Where do they go? A chat about what happens when a person passes. Where do they go? This is a question psychic medium Diane Lewis has been asked over and over again. Many of us wonder,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Together We Can New England
148 Thompson Road
Webster, MA, MA  01570
View map »


Sponsor: Together We Can New England
Telephone: 508-943-1637
Contact Name: Caryl
Website »

More information

Kinetic Chain Release, moxibustion and past life regression at Leapin Lizards. Every third Sunday: 9/16/18 10/21/18 11/18/18 12/16/18 For information, call Leapin Lizards at (207)...

Where:
Leapin Lizards
449 Forest Ave
Portland, ME
View map »


Telephone: (207) 221-2363
Website »

More information

This three-part series attunes you as a conduit to the healing system of Kundalini Reiki, a firey earth-based feminine energy. Kundalini Reiki is a gentle yet powerful modality to channel healing...

Cost: $150

Where:
Akasha Studio
20 Birch Street
Roslindale, MA  02131
View map »


Sponsor: Miriam Katz, Shamanic Healer
Telephone: 617-545-5142
Contact Name: Miriam Katz
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
No Events
No Events

The class is a combination of qi gong, yoga, meditation, and relaxation followed by a cup of healing tea. The class, developed by Korean enlightened master Ilchi Lee, is based on Sundo, a...

Cost: $10

Where:
Divine Paradigm
58b Macy St
Amesbury, MA  01913
View map »


Contact Name: Brad Fanger

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
No Events

The class is a combination of qi gong, yoga, meditation, and relaxation followed by a cup of healing tea. The class, developed by Korean enlightened master Ilchi Lee, is based on Sundo, a...

Cost: $10

Where:
Divine Paradigm
58b Macy St
Amesbury, MA  01913
View map »


Contact Name: Brad Fanger

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

With Katie Malloy Ramaci  Expand your connection to the angels by learning IET levels 2 and 3 certification. Truly move forward on your path. Learn Soulstar activation and release...

Cost: $1099 (Early Bird $999)

Where:
Women of Wisdom
118 Washington Street
North Easton, MA  02356
View map »


Sponsor: Women of Wisdom
Telephone: 508-230-3680
Contact Name: Women of Wisdom
Website »

More information

Join the Heart’s Desire Herd of Empowered Equines in Rochester, Massachusetts for an afternoon of peace and serenity. Remove yourself from the hustle and bustle of the holidays. Discover...

Cost: $65—some partial scholarships available

Where:
Heart’s Desire Stable
Rochester, MA  02770


Sponsor: Heart's Desire Stable
Telephone: 508-763-5254
Contact Name: Chris Korben
Website »

More information

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