Separation Anxiety: As a child or an adult, it’s just plain SAD.

Let’s talk separation anxiety. Oooh…shivers, right? Kind of like when the hyenas say, “Mufasa” in the Lion King. “Mufasa…oooh.” Well, let’s swirl it around a bit (separation anxiety anyway).

Traditionally, separation anxiety has been considered a “kid thing.” Heck, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) has separation anxiety disorder (SAD) listed in “Disorders Usually First Diagnosed in Infancy, Childhood, or Adolescence.” By the way, how ‘bout this acronym madness? SAD? I thought that was seasonal affective disorder.

Okay, back on topic. Well, the keyword in the DSM-IV’s classification is “usually.” And that’s a spot-on adverb because these days something known as adult separation anxiety disorder going around, striking some 8% of us big boys and girls. So much so, in fact, that I wouldn’t be surprised if it appears in the DSM-V, due out in 2012.

As a sidebar, from a clinical perspective I don’t live and die by the DSM. Though I can understand why it has to be, it’s a little too rigid and stuffy for my taste. But I enjoy reading it, find it a valuable resource, and believe the release of a new edition is reflective of the American Zeitgeist.

So what does it take to suffer from adult separation anxiety disorder? Well, first of all you have to be an adult (duh). And, in general, you need to become emotionally unwound and even physically ill when separation from an attachment figure has occurred or is imminent. And then you have to worry your tushie off about exactly that occurring and alter your behavior to avoid it from occurring. And being terribly uncomfortable with being alone is the frosting on the cake.

A huge item of consideration is the relationship between separation anxiety and agoraphobia. It makes perfect sense to me that an adult agoraphobic would have suffered from separation anxiety disorder as a kid. But I’ll go on to say it makes perfect sense that this very same agoraphobic may well be suffering from separation anxiety disorder, as well. Ouch!

I have no problem whatsoever laying out the fact that separation anxiety consumed my life as a child, adolescent, and adult. And by the way, agoraphobia at one time ruled my personal roost. True confession…I moved four days ago; and I felt those all too familiar feelings of chill and emptiness when I slept in my new bed the first night.

So what’s the point? I find it incredibly amazing and productive to learn about my emotional self. You may, as well. You may have no idea as to why you so often feel cold, alone, and empty. Now you have some direction. You may feel like an emotional freak. And now you don’t have to. Most of all, you may actually believe you’re cold, alone, and empty. But at least now you know you aren’t alone, and you have a shot at warming up and filling that void.

What a great opportunity for sharing. Would you comment?