Question: If my child has separation anxiety, is he/she more likely to develop an anxiety disorder later in life?
Answer: Anxiety tends to be consistent over the life span, but the area that the anxiety is expressed changes, and tends to be exaggeration of normal anxiety responses in childhood. So for instance, the frequency of separation anxiety is much higher in younger children who tend to be afraid of separation in general.
And these children tend to express their anxiety in different ways as they age. In the teenage years they may be more likely to have social phobia, and as adults to have more general worries. So yes, kids who have separation anxiety are at more risk to develop anxiety problems when they're adults -- about three times more likely. But also only a small percentage of kids who have anxiety disorders go on to develop them as adults.
Approximately 75 percent of those kids grow out of their anxiety. So there are a number of things that can be done to help kids with anxiety problems, such as pursuing appropriate treatment. It's also important to remember that many kids do grow out of their anxiety disorders, including separation anxiety disorder.
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