Separation anxiety is a normal stage of development for infants and toddlers. Young children often experience a period of separation anxiety, but most children outgrow separation anxiety by about 3 years of age.
In some children, separation anxiety is a sign of a more serious condition known as separation anxiety disorder, starting as early as preschool age.
If your child’s separation anxiety seems intense or prolonged especially if it interferes with school or other daily activities or includes panic attacks or other problems he or she may have separation anxiety disorder. Most frequently this relates to the child’s anxiety about his or her parents, but it could relate to another close caregiver.
Less often, separation anxiety disorder can also occur in teenagers and adults, causing significant problems leaving home or going to work. But treatment can help.