What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Separation Anxiety in Adults?

Headaches, crying, nausea, heart palpitations, sleep disturbances, irritability, panic attacks and an irrational fear of something bad happening to objects of attachment are some of the signs of separation anxiety in adults, according to rethink-anxiety-disorders.com. The disorder affects 7 percent of adults, reports Wikipedia.

The roots of clinically significant separation anxiety can partly be traced to childhood, according to Wikipedia. Adults who suffer from the disorder probably had emotionally distant parents or guardians during childhood or are likely to have developed unreliable, inconsistent emotional attachments with primary caregivers.

Adults can pass on separation anxiety to their children, warns WebMD. In such contexts, adults and children feed off each other's anxiety creating a vicious loop. Parenting styles that discourage independence, such as being overprotective, can also cause separation anxiety in adulthood, reports Wikipedia.

Adult separation anxiety feeds on the biological mechanism that enhances intimate attachments between people, reports Erica Westly of Scientific American. Close relationships stimulate the release of vasopressin and oxytocin, hormones that enhance intimate bonds and activate the brain's reward centers. For these two reasons, partners who are separated suffer from an effect remarkably similar to drug withdrawal. Such partners show elevated levels of cortisol, a hormone released by the body in response to stress.