The children of this disorder manifest persistent reluctance or refusal to travel independently away from the house or from other familiar areas. Even at home they may avoid being alone and stay all the time close to the parent, following him or her around the house and insisting someone to stay with them until they fall asleep. When separated from parents these children have unrealistic and persistent worry of never being reunited again with the parents or that some calamitous event will make the reunification impossible. Complaints of physical symptoms, e.g. headache, nausea, or excessive distress are common when separation is anticipated or occurs.
Separation anxiety is a serious problem among the children of depressed parents.