How to deal with separation anxiety

Making sense of the world we inhabit

By Prateeksha Shetty

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A sad child holding her mother for comfort and safety.
A sad child holding her mother for comfort and safety.

Published: Tue 21 Dec 2021, 10:14 PM

I get extremely sad when leaving my family, even if it’s for a short while. Sometimes I need to travel for work but even that becomes hard. I have a fear of being left out. I think I suffer from separation anxiety. — Name Withheld

Dear Writer, I wonder what you fear being left out of? Do you worry, maybe, that others do not miss your absence? Feeling sad when you are apart from your family is a genuinely valid response. But if you are an adult and still cling on to comfort (to the point that you cannot function on your own), maybe there is more to it. Try reflecting on what is it that saddens you. Maybe you experience increased worries or fear of harm when you are away and that may manifest as sadness. You must also consider your upbringing. If you attained autonomy much later in life or if your parents encouraged dependency, then your sadness may be a conditioned panic; you may have a greater tendency to experience uncertainty on your own and you are not sure of your role in life. It may also be your tendency to stick to familiarity and any deviance from that norm upsets you. Whatever the reasons maybe, exploring these feelings in-depth will enable you to develop strategies for it.

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