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Separation Anxiety Disorder

  • By: Steven W. Lee
  • In: Encyclopedia of School Psychology
  • Edited by: Steven W. Lee
  • Subject:School/Educational Psychology (general), School Psychology, Educational Psychology

Separation anxiety (SA) is nervousness or distress about being separated, or becoming separated, from the home or from an important person (e.g., mother, father) in the child's life. The anxiety experienced by the child impairs his or her ability to function in important areas of life (e.g., school and social settings). To make a diagnosis of separation anxiety, the child must be under 18 years of age at the onset of anxiety and the problem must exist for at least four weeks. The anxiety experienced by the child must be in excess of what is expected for the child's age. For example, it is normal (developmentally) for toddlers to cry or become upset when separated from their mother or father, but children, ages 5 years ...

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