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How To Cope With Post-Lockdown Separation Anxiety
How To Cope With Post-Lockdown Separation Anxiety

How To Get Over Separation Anxiety In Adults


Estimated Read Time:  5 minutes


Summary: In this blog we detail and explore what separation anxiety is and how to deal with separation anxiety in adults through the lens of lockdowns lifting…


Pandemic lockdowns have struck us all in unique ways across the globe. Some people’s relationships have broken down, and some have survived and thrived. But, now restrictions in some territories are lifting, it means independence and time away from our partner or spouse. So, why are some people in relationships feeling anxious about being away from their other halves?

What Is Separation Anxiety In Adults?

Separation anxiety is usually thought of as a pet thing, or something commonly experienced as a very young child. However, separation anxiety in adults exists and the symptoms can be really upsetting. 

Adults with separation anxiety may become socially withdrawn, experience panic attacks, seem extremely sad, or become easily distracted when away from their loved ones. It can also cause a partner to be overbearing to their other half, or they may flat out refuse to go anywhere without them. Decision making without the other person present may also prove difficult and overwhelming. 

The anxiety caused by being separated from a particular loved one may also result in physical symptoms like headaches and diarrhoea.

What Are The Causes Of Separation Anxiety In Adults?

Due to the fact that government-enforced lockdowns have forced those in relationships to spend intense periods of time together in close proximity, this has made some people in this situation more dependent on their partner’s presence and support. Thus, it’s caused them to become overly attached. 

This hasn’t been helped by the fact that the world outside became (and still is) scary and at the height of the pandemic, together you were doing your bit to ultimately survive. There may now also be an intense fear of being alone as that may induce a feeling of being unable to protect yourself. 

Other causes of separation anxiety in adults can be the loss of a loved one, or following a significant lifestyle change like moving away from family to college. 

You are more likely to develop separation anxiety as an adult if you experienced it as a child and can also be associated with other conditions like generalised anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, social anxiety disorder, panic disorders or personality disorders. 

How To Get Over Separation Anxiety In Adults

There are some steps you can take to help you deal with any separation anxiety you may be feeling as restrictions lift in your country or territory:

  1. Breathe - When you feel a panic attack, anxious thoughts or feelings coming on, try to take some deep breaths and communicate your situation calmly. When we’re stressed or scared, we can become critical, angry or blame the person closest to us as a defence mechanism. This brings on a higher risk of conflict and arguments which will result in the opposite of what we’re looking for: closeness, not separation. Take some deep breaths and explain your feelings as calmly as possible to your partner. 
  2. Focus On The Positives - Being apart from each other is healthy and a good thing for all thriving, happy relationships. It allows you to miss the other person and make your time together even more important and special. As you go back to the office to work, or start going out individually, decide together how much contact you each need to begin and schedule accordingly. Then, re-visit this every so often as being out of the house becomes more common and you both get more used to being out without the other. 
  3. Communicate To Others - If you’re out socially with a group of people or person you know without your partner and you’re feeling anxious, try telling them the situation. It will relieve you of feeling like you’re keeping a secret as well as opening up a conversation; they may be feeling a similar way or can empathise! A problem shared is a problem halved, as they say.

If the separation anxiety becomes unbearable or you’re really struggling to cope or manage your emotions, check in with your doctor or a certified, professional therapist or counsellor.  

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