Separation Anxiety Disorder

  • Aleta G. Angelosante
  • Magdalena A. Ostrowski
  • Rachel R. Chizkov
Part of the Current Clinical Psychiatry book series (CCPSY)


Separation anxiety disorder (SAD) is one of the most commonly diagnosed anxiety disorders among children presenting for treatment. A child with SAD experiences excessive anxiety concerning separation from home or from caregivers as well as persistent, unrealistic worry about harm to self or loved ones. Fears may manifest as an unwillingness to leave home, reluctance to be alone, physical complaints around separation, and frequent reassurance seeking regarding safety. This chapter provides a review of the current literature regarding the course and etiology of SAD, with a focus on genetic studies, environmental factors, and parenting. The link between childhood SAD, panic disorder, and other forms of psychopathology in adulthood is also considered. Assessment and treatment of SAD are discussed, with a review of the empirical evidence for the use of traditional cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), camp-based CBT, modified parent–child interaction therapy, and psychopharmacological treatments. Research on assessments and treatments specifically for SAD has been scarce. Given the relatively high prevalence of this disorder, and its role as a predictor of later psychopathology, further study is warranted. Future research might examine treatments designed specifically for SAD or recruit a subject pool that would allow for independent investigation of results for those with SAD within a larger heterogeneous anxiety sample. Furthermore, additional attempts to understand SAD as a risk factor may lead to prevention of adult psychopathology in these children.


Separation anxiety disorder Children Etiology Course Cognitive-behavioral therapy Parent–child interaction therapy 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aleta G. Angelosante
    • 1
  • Magdalena A. Ostrowski
    • 2
  • Rachel R. Chizkov
    • 3
  1. 1.NYU Child Study Center, NYU Langone Medical CenterNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Kean UniversityHillsideUSA
  3. 3.Department of Child and Adolescent PsychiatryNYU Langone Medical CenterNew YorkUSA

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