Find a Therapist at

Find a Local Therapist for In-Person or Telehealth Therapy

  for Consumers
Find a Therapist
Find a Treatment Center
Telehealth Therapists
About Therapy
Featured Articles
Support Groups
National Hotlines
What's New
  for Providers
List Your Practice
List Your Treatment Center
Custom Web Design
Publish an Article
My Account

Separation Anxiety and Codependency: Causes and Cures

» Mental Health Library » Disorders & Conditions » Separation Anxiety Disorder » Featured Article

By: Nancy Bortz, M.A.

Nancy Bortz, M.A.

Do you find it difficult to be alone for even a short period of time? Does even the thought of being alone cause your palms to get sweaty and your knees to get weak? Separation anxiety and codependency can impact a person's day-to-day life dramatically. What are the causes of these problems, and are there any cures?

First, let's make the distinction between separation anxiety and codependency because they are not synonymous. Separation anxiety is the general fear of abandonment from another person, place, thing, or even an idea/concept. This fundamentally differs from codependency in one particular nuance; codependency focuses on the relational dynamic rather than an underlying symptom.

For example, we might say that a person is afraid to leave their boyfriend/girlfriend if their work requires them to travel out of state for a brief conference. This would be the symptomatic problem of separation anxiety. Instead, if we said that a person is vicariously living through their significant other and therefore is feeling compelled to change the other person we would be talking about a codependent relational dynamic.

Hopefully, the distinction is now clearer- separation anxiety emphasizes a symptom, and codependency highlights a relational dynamic. It may go without saying, however, that separation anxiety and codependency can easily be seen interacting with each other in many unhealthy relationships.

One can easily picture a child who is afraid to be left alone and deeply feels their parents' emotions. There are biological reasons for this, as the child is overwhelmingly dependent on their parents for basic survival. Unfortunately, if this child-like mentality continues into adulthood, a pathology has developed somewhere along the way.

What causes separation anxiety and codependency to continue into adulthood? The likely causes almost certainly began in childhood. If a child has an abusive (verbally or physically) parent and/or a parent who models unhealthy behavior, the child is much more likely to develop a fearful disposition towards the world around them and people in general. On the contrary if a child grows up in a healthy environment, it will be much less likely for the child to develop these unhealthy thought patterns later in life.

If you were traumatized as a child, there is no reason to believe that you cannot rewire your hardwiring and prosper later in life. You may have been knocked down, but it is imperative to get back up, wipe the dust off, and continue to live your own life how you desire it to be. It should be noted that this journey will require external support and internal fortitude. Therapy can greatly assist one's journey to freeing oneself from the shackles that are currently in place. Therapy can be supplemented with spirituality and other modalities of self improvement. Thank you for taking the time to read my article and please reach out if you or someone you know would be benefitted from scheduling a therapy session. My door is open, along with my eyes and ears. Remember, it is better to move forward because if you are not moving forward then you are only regressing.

About the Author...

Nancy has been a therapist for 20 years and is highly experienced working with different ages, gender, and is very well-versed in treating what can plague the human condition.

Click here to contact or learn more about Nancy Bortz

Last Update: 9/3/2019

Home  |  Provider Directory  |  Mental Health Library  |  Resource Center  |  For Providers
Find a Therapist  |  Find a Treatment Center  |  List Your Practice  |  List Your Treatment Center
About Us  |  Contact Us  |  User Agreement  |  Privacy Policy  |  Site Map
The information provided on this site is for educational or informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical or behavioral health care advice. The information is not intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care provider. Please consult your health care provider if you have any questions or concerns about your health.
© 2024, Inc. All rights reserved.
Welcome Guestbook What's New Site Map Find a Therapist Find a Treatment Center About Therapy Frequently Asked Questions Disorders & Conditions Medications Treatment Approaches Featured Articles News Archive Mental Health Dictionary Support Groups National Hotlines Mental Health Books Related Web Sites For Providers Provider Login Back to top of page