Quarantine has made separation anxiety more difficult to cope with

Gracie Schwarz, Copy Editor

Separations begin with the lockdown that was implemented in the spring. Families were separated, vacations were canceled and anxieties were high. Due to the lack of contact, individuals who suffer from separation anxiety had a hard time dealing with the rift between them and their friends and family.
Separation can manifest itself in both children and adults.
Joshua Posegate, the psychology teacher at Nixa High School, says that this disorder can affect ages differently.
“Separation anxiety usually is something children experience as related to leaving home or being separated from a parent or loved one even if for a short period of time,” Posegate said. “As children grow into teens they may still experience anxiety that pertains to separation. This may manifest itself in teens not wanting to leave home and missing an excessive amount of school days.”
The symptoms of this vary from person to person. The most common ones are: excessive worry about leaving and being alone, worrying that something bad has happened to a loved one, sleep issues and potentially physiological things like headaches. These can present themselves whether alone or with others.
During lockdown this spring, it was difficult or even impossible to see friends. However, for people who struggle with being away from their families, it could have been a positive change.
“Since people had to stay home more, it may have actually helped people with this if they suffered separation anxiety due to leaving home or leaving a parent,” Posegate said.
Since school has become seated again and widespread stay at home orders are lifted, people suffering from separation anxiety could have gotten better.
“If the separation anxiety pertained to being gone from school in some way, then those students may have gotten better as a result of returning to school,” Posegate said. “Possibly these anxieties stemmed from being away from a significant other.”
According to the New York Times, research has shown that young adults and teens depend on their relationships to retain their sense of self-worth as well as to help manage anxiety and depression.
It is unforeseen if school will have to go into lockdown again. If this does happen, there are a few simple ways to ease these anxieties. Jenney Myler, a counselor at NHS, has some recommendations.
“For those that suffer from Separation Anxiety Disorder, I would recommend spending some time evaluating what coping skills work best for them to practice in public,” Myler said. “Deep breathing is a simple technique that’s excellent for managing emotions. Not only is deep breathing effective, but it’s also discreet and easy to use at any time or place.”
Working through these anxieties can be difficult, but speaking to a trusted individual can make it easier.
“I would recommend talking about these anxieties with a friend, family member or professional,” Myler said. “Expressing these thoughts and being able to process them and identify healthy coping strategies is one of the best treatment plans I could recommend.”
However, if a loved one isn’t enough, mental health helplines can be contacted by calling or texting. A good example is the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), which can be found at 1-800-950-6264. This way, troubles can be discussed without revealing personal information or having to have an in-person talk.
Learning about these lesser known disorders can help spread awareness about them.
“It is important for this disorder and other mental health disorders to be better understood by all people to, not only help get rid of the stigma of mental health issues but also give people access to options in case they suffer from this type of disorder,” Posegate said.