It is an anxiety disorder in which the individual experiences excessive fear or anxiety regarding separation from people with to whom they feel strongly attached to.
In children, this may be difficulty separating from parents or other significant caregivers such as grandparents or domestic helpers. This fear or anxiety is unusual or inappropriate for the individual's developmental age and is recurrent or prolonged and severe. The fear and anxiety is typically persistent for at least four weeks in children and adolescents and typically 6 months or more in adults, and causes impairment in social, academic, occupational and other areas of the individual's functioning.
For example, the child may experience significant anxiety and distress when having to separate from caregivers to go to school, enrichment activities or being in a room by themselves or they may avoid situations in which separation may occur. In adults, the adult may find it difficult to go to work, get married or move out of home independently.