Investigation of Early Separation Anxiety Symptom Levels in Turkish Young Adults

By Ceyhan, Aydogan Aykut | Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal, March 15, 2006 | Go to article overview

Investigation of Early Separation Anxiety Symptom Levels in Turkish Young Adults


Ceyhan, Aydogan Aykut, Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal


This study aimed to determine whether the early separation anxiety symptom levels of young adults differ according to their personal and familial characteristics. It is retrospective. The sample consisted of 284 university students attending Anadolu University in Turkey, in the 2004-2005 academic years. Data were collected from the Separation Anxiety Symptoms Scale (Ceyhan, 2000) and a questionnaire. Analysis of the data was conducted using independent t-test and ANOVA. Results revealed that the levels of early separation anxiety symptoms of females are significantly higher than those of males. Also, that the level of early separation anxiety symptoms of young adults who were only children was significantly higher than those of first, middle, and last children. There was no significant difference in terms of the variables such as mothers' and fathers' attitudes perceived retrospectively, attendance at nursery school, or mothers' working conditions during childhood. Results are discussed in the light of literature regarding the limitations of the study.

Keywords: separation anxiety, young adult.

In human development, the early years of life and the environment lived in have great importance. Negative experiences in the early years of life may affect personality development negatively. For instance, it is pointed out that if the quality of attachment in early years is insecure, the success of the psychological adjustment throughout life may be obstructed (Brown & Wright, 2003). Disruptions in the relationship between infants and their caregivers, as a result of separations or losses, can lead to negative long-term effects on development of children (Scharf, 2001). One of the other negative experiences children may encounter in their early lives is separation anxiety which is described as childhood anxiety disorder (Scott & Cully, 1995; Silove et al., 1993).

Separation anxiety is expressed generally as encompassing feelings of discomfort and worry about separations from a significant person (BartleHaring, Brucker, & Hock, 2002). Separation anxiety disorder is characterized by excessive anxiety which is observed when a child experiences separations from persons who are significant for him or her (Moon, 2002). In childhood, separation anxiety may be experienced frequently and the intensity of it changes from child to child. Some children may endure separation anxiety much more intensively. For some children, it may last for years with avoidance behaviors (DSM IV,

1994), and can cause some problems in their adolescence and adulthood as well (USA Today, 2000).

There is much research revealing that there is a relationship between early separation anxiety and various disorders in adulthood. In the literature, it is reported that there is a link between childhood separation anxiety and adulthood panic disorder (Agargün & Kara, 1995; Ellis, 1990; Lutz & Hock, 1995; Otto et al., 2001; Silove, Manicavasagar, O'Connell, & Morris-Yates, 1995), and also that early separation anxiety is a risk factor for the other adult anxiety disorders (Agargün & Kara, 1995; Lipsitz et al., 1994; Manicavasagar et al., 1999; Manicavasagar, Silove, & Pavloviç, 1998; Otto et al., 2001; Silove et al., 1995). Moreover, it is found that the separation anxiety, which young adults have experienced in the past significantly predicts their learned resourcefulness, state anxiety, trait anxiety and psychological symptom levels (Ceyhan, 2004). However it is pointed out that it is still ambiguous whether the early separation anxiety causes a predisposition for panic disorder or creates a more common vulnerability for adulthood anxiety disorders (Onur, Alkm, Monkul, & Fidaner, 2004; Silove et al., 1995).

From these explanations, it may be suggested that the quality of relationship established with parents in infancy is a significant factor in the emergence of childhood separation anxiety, it may establish a basis for anxiety experienced in adulthood, and, at the same time, lead to a predisposition for psychological disorders in adulthood. …

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