Separation Anxiety

What is it?

Separation anxiety is a term used to explain a feeling of anxiety or stress when you are away from your parents/family/guardians, for example, when you are at school. You may find that you worry a lot when your parents or guardians are not with you or when you are away from your home. This will affect how you act towards other people when you are in certain places such as school.


You may only feel comfortable and stop worrying when you are at home or with your parents/guardians. You may also feel afraid of going to sleep alone and when you do get to sleep, you may have nightmares about being apart from your parents/guardian. You could sometimes have a tummy ache or headaches when you are away from your parents and you may also create stories, like saying that you don’t feel well to avoid being away from your parents or your home

DIY self diagnosis

Symptoms of Separation Anxiety Disorder

Symptoms of separation anxiety occur when a child is separated from parents or caregivers. Fear of separation can also cause anxiety-related behaviours which can progress into adulthood. Some of the most common behaviours include:

  • Clinging to parents
  • Extreme and severe crying
  • Refusal to do things that require separation
  • Physical illness, such as headaches or vomiting
  • Violent, emotional temper tantrums
  • Poor school performance
  • Refusing to sleep alone
  • Nightmares

How we can help

By becoming a member of Anxiety UK – for just £30 per year (see all our membership) you enjoy a range of support services and resources, including:

  • Access to reduced cost therapies
  • One year’s free subscription to Headspace (worth approx. £72), more details here
  • Access to specialist email and helpline support
  • Subscription to Anxious Times magazine (worth £12 annually)
  • Access to our Member’s area and other free online resources
  • Access to our exclusive member’s only online message boards
  • Free copy of Understanding Anxiety booklet (worth £3.99)
  • 20% discount on purchases of Kalms Lavender One-A-Day Capsules made via This discount is exclusively for Anxiety UK members.
  • 10% off a Listening Books membership (normally between £20 and £45 per year).
  • Total value of more than £90 annually!

Separation Anxiety fact sheet

Children and Anxiety Fact Sheet

This fact sheet gives a detailed overview, as well as a look at some of the evidence based approaches to managing anxiety among children.

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Recommended resources

Children and Anxiety is a DVD that has been produced with schools and youth organisations in mind. It recounts the stories of 3 young people who have experienced anxiety conditions. You can purchase your copy from the Anxiety UK shop here.

Children and Anxiety Booklet has been designed with information for young people and their parents/carers. You can purchase a copy from the Anxiety UK shop here.