separation anxiety

Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Legal, Acronyms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.


a multidimensional emotional state manifested as a somatic, experiential, and interpersonal phenomenon; a feeling of uneasiness, apprehension, or dread. These feelings may be accompanied by symptoms such as breathlessness, a choking sensation, palpitations, restlessness, muscular tension, tightness in the chest, giddiness, trembling, and flushing, which are produced by the action of the autonomic nervous system, especially the sympathetic part of it.

Anxiety may be rational, such as the anxiety about doing well in a new job, about one's own or someone else's illness, about passing an examination, or about moving to a new community. People also feel realistic anxiety about world dangers, such as the possibility of war, and about social and economic changes that may affect their livelihood or way of living. Most persons find healthy ways to deal with their normal quota of anxiety.
Nursing Diagnosis. Anxiety was accepted as a nursing diagnosis by the North America Nursing Diagnosis Association and defined as “a vague, uneasy feeling of discomfort or dread, accompanied by an autonomic response (the source often nonspecific or unknown to the individual); a feeling of apprehension caused by anticipation of danger.” It is an alerting signal that warns of apprehension caused by anticipation of danger and enables the individual to take measures to deal with the threat. It is differentiated from fear in that the anxious person cannot identify the threat, whereas the fearful person recognizes the source of fear.

Factors that can precipitate an attack of anxiety include any pathophysiological event that interferes with satisfaction of the basic human physiological needs. Situational factors include actual or perceived threat to self-concept, loss of significant others, threat to biological integrity, change in environment, change in socioeconomic status, and transmission of another person's anxiety to the individual. Other etiologic factors are associated with a threat to completion of developmental tasks at various life stages, for example, a threat to an adolescent in the completion of developmental tasks associated with sexual development, peer relationships, and independence.

Interventions. Measures to assist the individuals suffering from anxiety are aimed at helping them recognize their anxiety and their usual means of coping with it, and providing alternate, more healthful coping mechanisms that give a sense of physiological and psychological comfort.
anxiety disorders a group of mental disorders in which anxiety is the most prominent disturbance or in which anxiety is experienced if the patient attempts to control the symptoms. Everyone occasionally experiences anxiety as a normal response to a dangerous or unusual situation. In an anxiety disorder, the person feels the same emotion without any apparent reason and cannot identify the source of the threat that produces the anxiety, which actually has its origin in unconscious fears or conflicts.

People with anxiety disorders experience both the subjective emotion and various physical manifestations resulting from muscular tension and autonomic nervous system activity. This can produce a variety of symptoms, including sweating, dizziness, shortness of breath, insomnia, loss of appetite, and palpitations. The source of the anxiety lies in unconscious fears, unresolved conflicts, forbidden impulses, or threatening memories. Symptoms are often triggered by an apparently harmless stimulus that the patient unconsciously links with a deeply buried, anxiety-producing experience. Chronic anxiety can lead to various somatic alterations. The onset of anxiety may be gradual or sudden. Some persons experience incapacitating acute anxiety (as in panic disorder) while others manifest their anxiety through avoidant behavior patterns (phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder). Anxiety disorders include: panic disorder, agoraphobia, social phobia, specific phobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, acute stress disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and substance-induced anxiety disorder.
free-floating anxiety severe, generalized anxiety having no apparent connection to any specific object, situation, or idea.
performance anxiety a social phobia characterized by extreme anxiety and episodes of panic when performance, particularly public performance, is required.
anxiety reaction a reaction characterized by abnormal apprehension or uneasiness; see also anxiety disorders.
separation anxiety apprehension due to removal of significant persons or familiar surroundings, common in infants 12 to 24 months old; see also separation anxiety disorder.
situational anxiety that occurring spcifically in relation to a situation or object.

sep·a·ra·tion anx·i·e·ty

a child's apprehension or fear associated with removal from or loss of a parent or significant other.

separation anxiety

1. A child's apprehension associated with separation from a parent or other caregiver.
2. Anxious behavior exhibited by a domestic animal in the absence of its owner or custodian.

separation anxiety

Etymology: L, separare, to separate, atio, process
fear and apprehension caused by separation from familiar surroundings and significant people. The syndrome occurs commonly in an infant separated from its mother or mothering figure or approached by a stranger. In a separation crisis the child goes through three distinct states. The protest stage is marked by loud cries, which can last for several days and during which the child is inconsolable. In the second phase the child stops crying and becomes depressed as a result of increasing hopelessness, grief, and mourning. The third stage is one of detachment or denial, in which the child outwardly appears to have adjusted.

separation anxiety

A normal developmental stage—occurring between 6–8 months and 10–14 months—during which an infant experiences apprehension, uncertainty and discomfort when faced with anticipated or actual separation from a primary care giver, mother or parent-surrogate. SA wanes by age 2, when toddlers begin to trust that their parents will return; if unresolved in childhood (separation anxiety disorder), it can reappear whenever one is in an unfamiliar situations—e.g., hospitals, illness, pain—or around unfamiliar people.

separation anxiety

Pediatrics A normal developmental stage–between 6-8 months and 10-14 months–during which an infant experiences apprehension, uncertainty, discomfort when faced with anticipated or actual separation from a 1º care giver, mother or parent-surrogate; SA wanes by age 2, when toddlers begin to trust that their parents will return; SA reappears whenever one is in an unfamiliar situations–eg, hospitals, illness, pain, or unfamiliar people

sep·a·ra·tion anx·i·ety

(sep'ăr-ā'shŭn ang-zī'ĕ-tē)
Apprehension or fear associated with removal from or loss of a parent or significant other.

separation anxiety

Excessive and inappropriate levels of anxiety experienced by children during separation, or the threat of separation, from a parent or from a person in loco parentis.

separation anxiety

see separation anxiety.
References in periodicals archive ?
Our findings suggest that rural adolescents can be distinguished from their urban counterparts by an increased tendency to perceive themselves as self-centered, to experience separation anxiety, to seek close interpersonal ties with caretakers, teachers, and peers, and by an integration of needs for dependence and independence.
Mail carrier Dave Clouse tells friends at his surprise party that he may feel some separation anxiety after he retires Friday.
Of the anxiety disorders experienced by children, separation anxiety disorder (SAD) has been shown to be the most prevalent, accounting for approximately one-half of the children seen for mental health treatment of anxiety disorders (Bell-Dolan, 1995).
Treatment of separation anxiety disorder with graduated exposure and reinforcement targeting school attendance: A controlled case study.
Separation anxiety disorder in children has similar clinical features as adults with panic disorder with agoraphobia, such as phobic avoidance, catastrophic interpretations, and panic symptoms.
D pangs of separation anxiety hit at the thought of throwing away even a memo?
While protecting wine assets and alleviating separation anxiety are the two primary benefits for users of CellarSensor[TM] and CellarCentral.
Either way, Adult Separation Anxiety (aka ASA) is real
Separation anxiety is normal for all pets, and caretakers should be aware of the symptoms and understand how to respond.
A: It sounds as though Rufus is suffering from a condition called separation anxiety.