Center for Treatment of Anxiety & Mood Disorders

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Separation Anxiety Disorder Treatment

The summer is waning – it’s almost time for autumn to roll around again, which means school will be starting soon. While most children look forward to this time so they can see their friends and enjoy various school activities, this can be a period of major anxiety for some school-aged children. These kids are extremely unwilling to leave home or be away from major attachment figures such as parents, grandparents, or older siblings. The beginning of the new school year is often seen as a threat to them, resulting in elevated anxiety levels and possible school-related disorders, such as separation anxiety disorder and school refusal.

In some cases the separation anxiety and school refusal follow an infection or illness or can come after an emotional trauma such as a move to another neighborhood or the death of a loved one. The anxiety generally occurs after the child has spent an extended time with their parent or loved one, perhaps over summer break or a long vacation.

Anxiety Definition

A teen or child is said to be suffering from a separation anxiety disorder if they show excessive anxiety related to the separation from a parent or caregiver or from their home, or if they exhibit an inappropriate anxiety about this separation as related to their age or stage of development. School refusal and separation anxiety are not the same: school refusal is not an “actual” diagnosis, instead it is a result of the child or teen having a separation anxiety disorder, panic disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, or social phobia, among other diagnoses.

Separation Anxiety Physical Symptoms

Children with separation anxiety have symptoms which can include:

  • Excessive worry about potential harm befalling oneself or one’s caregiver
  • Demonstrating clingy behavior
  • Avoiding activities that may result in separation from parents
  • Fearing to be alone in a room or needing to see a parent at all times
  • Difficulty going to sleep, fear of the dark, and/or nightmares
  • Trembling
  • Headaches
  • Stomachaches and/or nausea
  • Vomiting

 

A child who exhibits three or more of these symptoms for more than four weeks is likely to be suffering from a separation anxiety disorder.

Treatment for School Refusal and Separation Anxiety

When treating a child with separation anxiety and school refusal, our therapists in Delray Beach, FL and also across the United States via teletherapy, try to help the child learn to identify and change their anxious thoughts. They teach coping mechanisms that will help the child respond less fearfully to the situations that produce their anxiety. This can be done through role-playing or by modeling the appropriate behavior for the child to see. Medication is sometimes appropriate in severe cases of separation anxiety. Additionally, the therapist encourages child to use positive self-talk and parents help with this therapy by actively reinforcing positive behaviors and rewarding their child’s successes.

 

Looking for immediate help?
Contact Us Today for a Confidential Assessment.

Call 561-496-1094 or

Treatment Programs Specializing In:

Serving the whole person, not just the symptoms. In all of our programs your comfort, privacy and long-term success are paramount.

COVID-19 Trauma has become familiar to many people throughout the pandemic. If you’re experiencing trauma, PTSD, anxiety, or depression as a result of Corona virus learn about how our COVID-19 Trauma Treatment Program can help.

 

We offer online therapy to help people who are unable to leave their homes. Contact us and we will will schedule your confidential online assessment.

 

Helping people from all walks of life find deeper connection and understanding to create stronger and healthier relationships.

 

Anxiety disorders are the most common psychiatric illnesses affecting children and adults. When you experience anxiety that is persistent, seemingly uncontrollable, overwhelming and disabling you may have an anxiety disorder.

 

Mood disorders represent a category of psychiatric disorders in which the underlying problem primarily affects a person’s persistent emotional state or mood. Mood disorders are made up of depressive types and bipolar types.

 
 
 

Children and adolescents experience normal problems of growing up due to pressures of social media, school, socializing, self esteem or family. Our youth services provide assistance in dealing with educational, social, and vocational issues.

 
 

The Trauma Institute provides highly specialized clinical services, informed by the latest cutting edge-research, for trauma survivors. We are an Institute dedicated to clinical services, community education, professional training, and research focused on trauma recovery.

 
 
 

Many children and adults who have weak executive functioning skills are negatively impacted in all areas of life but fortunately through assessment and intervention, executive skills can be strengthened and compensatory strategies can be learned.  When these skills are well developed, children and adults can better maximum their potential and future outcomes.

 
 

Families naturally go through stages and transitions across the lifespan. Family dynamics impact each individuals’ response to daily life and major events. Therapy can help families understand their complex and ever-changing dynamics. As the family becomes an expert in their processes, they will be able to use new skills to navigate each situation with love and respect for one another.

 
 
 

Types of Therapy

The Center offers cutting edge therapy designed to get you on the road to a speedy recovery. We will help you to learn how to live your daily life free from the fears or compulsions that inhibit you or your child’s ability to complete each day’s tasks.

More Ways to Get Help Now

The Center offers cutting edge therapy designed to get you on the road to a speedy recovery. We know that you can’t always make it into our office for your session. Which is why we now provide teletherapy. You can get support from the comfort of your own home. We offer cognitive behavior therapy, psychodynamic psychotherapy, mindfulness meditation, group therapy, and medication. Depending on your needs, here’s how you can get help now:

Online or Phone Therapy

For individuals around the country or those wanting help from the comfort of your own home, we offer therapy via Facetime, Skype or phone.

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In Person Treatment

We have professionals available 7 days a week. Our offices are conveniently located in the Boca/Delray area.

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Intensive Weekend Programs

For those who prefer a more short-term approach we offer weekend sessions for individuals or groups. Perfect for those with a less flexible work schedule.

When it comes to anxiety or mood disorders we specialize in treating the whole person, not just your symptoms. In all of our programs your comfort, privacy and long-term success are paramount.

Looking for immediate help?
Contact Us Today for a Confidential Assessment.

Call 561-496-1094 or

We’ve passed the midpoint of the summer vacation break and parents and children are beginning to think about the upcoming school year. This is the time to start planning for new clothes and school supplies, including the dorm room items you’ll need if your child will be going off to college in the fall. Yet, with all the preparation parents make before their child goes away for the first time, often neither they nor the child think about separation anxiety and the emotional aspects of the transition to college.

New college freshmen often “talk big” about how glad they are going to be when they can finally get out on their own, but this may be just their bravado speaking. The first semester of college can be very stressful for your teen – many don’t realize that they’ll have to manage their day to day existence by themselves and won’t have their parents to fall back on. Also, it isn’t just the student who can have some problems coping – often parents struggle to adjust to this new phase of life without their teen and find themselves going through a bout of separation anxiety when their child leaves for school.

Even the most independent person can experience some homesickness in college during the first few weeks (or even months) in their new environment. They’ll have to make new friends, adjust to living with a roommate, and learn to navigate a new routine. If they have feelings of inadequacy before their transition to college, those emotions will be amplified, at least for a while.  Additionally, the child’s identity can be shaken during the transition to college – familiar peers who have given them a sense of “where they fit in” will no longer be around and the new freshman will have to figure out where they belong in the new world they’ve entered. With all this stress, it’s no wonder that about 21 % of college students use illegal substances and approximately 45 % binge drink in order to cope.

Separation Anxiety Symptoms

The following separation anxiety symptoms can affect both teens and parents:

  • A feeling of helplessness, sadness, worry, or anger
  • Excessive worry, allowing your thoughts to run wild (“what if?” thinking)
  • Fear or reluctance to go off to school and leave the familiar comforts of home
  • Nightmares or trouble sleeping
  • Headaches
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Stomachaches, loss of appetite
  • Crying
  • Racing heart, shortness of breath
  • Substance abuse

How to Help Your Child Deal with Separation Anxiety

It’s normal for children and parents to go through many of these separation anxiety symptoms during the first semester of college, but many are too embarrassed to seek help. Keep in mind that those who already suffer from a depression or anxiety disorder will require even more emotional support. Here are some ways you can help your new college student adjust to their transition to college:

  • Talk to your child before they leave for college and let them know that it’s okay to feel overwhelmed as they adjust to their new life away from home.
  • Listen to your child and encourage them to talk about the stress they are feeling.
  • Encourage them to join a club, group such as a sorority or fraternity, or get involved in extracurricular activities as a way to make new friends.
  • Visit them at college if you are able (and if you are needed).
  • Educate yourself about the places your child can go for help, such as on-campus support groups or counseling centers. If necessary, get a referral to a nearby mental help therapist if there are no available resources at your child’s school.

Learn More

If you or your college student are suffering from the symptoms of college separation anxiety during the transition to college, we can help. Contact The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida or call us today at 561-496-1094.

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7 Responses

  1. Hi I have a question,
    My cild is extremely afraid in college. Although we live in a big city, and her college is in a small town, she has trouble fitting in with her peers and feeling comfortable around them. Despite having many people around her she is convinced none of them really care about her and therefore feels extremely lonely and left behind. Im not sure if she has anxiety disorder or what but she doest know how to fix it.

  2. Hi i need some help. I graduated high school last year and was planning on going to a college about 2 hours away. I had to go in the summer because my SAT scores weren’t high enough, but two of my best friends had to do that as well so i thought it would be okay. The weekend we moved in was fun for the first two nights. then my parents left the third night and as i was getting ready for bed i started feeling sick and started having a panic attack out of no where. I had never had one before and this was new to me. They kept happening so i decided to come home with my parents. I kept having them throughout the summer and it was the most terrifying this i ever went through. Part of me has wanted to try to go off again with my friends and live my college years and i’m getting on medicine for my anxiety now. I really want to go back with my 3 best friends and live in a really nice apartment and go to school for a esthetician program where they go to school. I’m not sure what the best decision for me is. All i know is i don’t want to regret not going. My parents think it would be good for me and think since i’m on medicine it won’t happen again but i’m so scared but excited at the same time. Any advice?

  3. hello,i feel cheated After 35 years of marriage my husband cheated on me, thanks to priest kala for helping me, he told me that he was no longer interested in marriage, I could not say what leads to this cause, we have never had a real fight that could lead to such a decision. I was much worse than I could not continue. One afternoon I was at home talking online with a close friend, reading an article, and seeing a comment on a married woman. It really struck me because I never thought it was possible, I thought and tried. So I did whatever he asked me and after the last seven days my husband came and asked me to forgive him that he wanted us to meet and that he now has more than five years. now we are a happy family. I am really grateful for this help for what it is for me, I mean her kindness. {Whatsapp {{ 17692085860}}}}}}}} :: :

    1. Hi Michelle,

      Yes, we recently began treating internationally. Please contact us through the contact page to learn more about the options available.

  4. Any suggestions for students who are isolated at school because of the pandemic? Colleges do not seem to be doing a particularly good job welcoming them and assisting with the transition!

    1. Hi Christine, Please contact us through the contact page for the options and support available for these students

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