Separation Anxiety in Twins

What is Separation Anxiety?

I just had my Qualitative Research Method proposal done (for my final examination). I chose Separation Anxiety in Twins. The topic about twins had always amazed me since I did my bachelor degree thesis. At that time, I chose Individuality in Twins. I got a clear image on how hard is it to build individuality in twins, because they always have such a unique relationship that can be understood by them…

In my latest proposal, I chose separation anxiety in twins. Separation anxiety is a psychological condition when a person has excessive anxiety of being separated from home or other caregiver figures (APA, 2000). The early onset is at 6 years of age and it is not happening after 18 years old (if it so, then we need to refer to other diagnoses).

 

My twin brothers and me

My twin brothers and me

 

Separation anxiety disorder used to be known as school phobia, because it happens during the school years and children are showing reluctancy to go to school or join in after-school activities. Separation anxiety is common on 0-3 years of age, but then it becomes disorder when children can’t go to school and enjoy the class after 3 years of age. This disorder will affect their academic performances and social life too.

There is one example of severe separation anxiety on 18-year-old fraternal twins (adulttwins-separation-anxiety). They showed number of severe depression (Twin A) and anxiety symptoms (Twin B). They mentioned thoughts of killing themselves and even hurt himself (Twin A) with knife and fire extinguisher. This condition was started with a week of separation because they went to different university after graduating their High School years. Sometimes the reasons of separation anxiety in twins are irrational.

What parents can do?

Parents can start by talking to their twins about their individuality and their uniqueness as a person. They are unique as twins, and they know that for sure. But sometimes, twins do not understand that they need to be a person individually. It is very important for parents to tell their twins about this as early as possible.

identical-twins

Parents can help their twins by enhance each child ability or talents. By doing so, each child will feel special and understand their being a complete child, not merely as a unit of twins. If your twins show any differences in sports or academic, do not stop that, instead enhance that.

Way to go, parents!

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39 thoughts on “Separation Anxiety in Twins

  1. hi. i am trying to do a psychology paper on separation with twins and am having a REALLY hard information finding ANY information. If you could pleas send me some ideas where you got your information that would be great.

    • Hi I m a identical twin. And right now I m having a really hard time dealing with my separation with my twin sister. We were not dealt with individuality. We where separated for the first time when I moved to Savannah from Montreal. But it was so easy to deal with the separation because I had my husband with me most of the time so I never felt alone. Now I moved to Toronto for my career and my husband works at a summer job that requires very very long hours but I m so busy with my career but I don’t finish as late as my husband and now I m feeling alone all the time even though I have people around me that I work with. But not having family and friends and especially my twin and husband around I feel so so so alone. I don’t feel like a whole person it seems i need someone close all the time how do I deal with that if your studying on twins let me tell you sometimes I feel like a freak because people just don’t understand identically twins. If you have any input please reply.

      • Hello; I am looking for some help too and wonder if you found an answer to your separation anxiety from your twin. I am the grandmother of identical-mirror image twin girls who will be 20 years old next month. And, for the first time in their lives, they are separated. They are both in college, but this semester they are going to different schools which are 6 hours apart. They ‘THOUGHT’ that they would be fine…well one of them is doing OK, but the other one is absolutely inconsolable. She has said the very same words to me that you have written in your letter. She cries all of the time. Says that she feels completely alone and doesn’t think that she can last the semester without being with her sister,l because she can’t concentrate at all. She says that she feels like the freak of the family because she can’t handle being apart from her twin. In the past, the longest that they have ever been apart is two days.

        Did you find any information to help you with your separation anxiety? I too am having a difficult time finding any information to help them—and their parents undertand what she is going through, and to help her out.

      • Hi Pat,
        My article was written based on my research on numbers of identical twins a few years ago. There are ways to help your granddaughters to overcome their separation anxiety.

        Looking at your short explanation above, it seems that the pattern of their relationship is dependent – independent, which means that one twin is able to cope with the separation, but the other one is unable to cope.

        One way to help is by reinforce that the separation is something possible to do, even though it is not easy. You can ask the twin who is doing fine to help her twin sister, by encouraging her to stay strong. The twin who’s having difficulties can write to her sister in daily basis – express her feeling, her anxiety, her wishes. The objective is to help her knowing her feelings and by let it flow out, she knows that she can handle those feelings with the help of her twin.

        I hope this simple strategy can help your granddaughter. If you need further help, please don’t hesitate to contact me through cicilia_evi@yahoo.com

        Regards!

  2. good morning. i was looking up some things about twins because i am a fraternal twin and my borhter has been gone away for only 2 weeks and this is soo hard for me and i know i may not see him for a year. I try to b strong for the both of us but hes the male and even tho he says hes strong he lets tears out here and there. i find i can go a day without crying but still think about him every second of the day. When night falls I turn into a wreck and thats when i break down. There have been times i know when he is in terouble or hurt. twins feel things and noone can know how we feel when we part or what kind of bond we have. its amazing. but remember everyone who is a twin have diff feelings.

  3. My son Donovan, baby “B”, just started first grade–with viral gastro entiritis which he picked up at the school open house. Not only that, but he is very anxious, so is still becoming nauseus in the morning, but I took him to school when it became evident that it was anxiety, not the virus that was presenting. He and his brother (very outgoing) are 6.

    • I’m dealing with the same right now my twins are 5 just started kindergarten. My son gets sick and actually throws up every time he is separated from his twin sister. What do I do?

      • Hi Autumn,
        It is usual for a very young children to show physical problems when they are having emotional/psychological problems. Throwing up is one of many usual symptoms for young children to send the message that they are unable to face the problems right away. What you can do is showing to him that even without his sister, he will be okay.

        – Teach him to say goodbye. It is important to let him know that saying goodbye is very natural and as a way to have a proper separation with anyone. He can add ‘See you soon’ or ‘See you later’ to make sure that he will meet her again, later or soon enough.
        – Distraction. It is also important to have an ’emergency bag’ fills with toys, coloring books, favorite characters, and many more ready! Whenever he has to be by himself, you can start distract his attention, by not putting too much effort on his lost, but using his energy to do something fun with other people.
        – Differentiate. Avoid wearing the same or similar clothes and ask them to do something similar. Assigning the twins to do different tasks or activities at the same time, will teach them how to work as a team and being supportive, but not as each others clone. For example: you daughter may do the washing and let your son do the sweeping in the kitchen. They are allowed to be in the same room, at the same time, but doing something different for one purpose: a clean kitchen. Meanwhile, you can clean the table!

        If you need any further information, please feel free to email me at cicilia_evi@yahoo.com.
        I will be more than happy to have a discussion with you.

        My regards to your twins!
        Cicilia

  4. Ghaaaaaa it’s sooooooooo frustrating being separated from my twin!! We’re both 21 and identical females. I moved out of state 48 days ago for school and I’ve had the hardest time finding peace! I always think about her, I’m writing a blog about being separated (see above website) and I really feel that it’s affecting my schoolwork, employment, my socializing methods, etc. I feel like I talk to myself a lot and I have a hard time talking to others and maintaining close relationships with people in this state. There is not much information online about how to cope with Twin separation anxiety even though there’s SO MANY twibns who have or will deal with it in some point of their lives!! Sighhhhhhhhh what should I do?

    • Hi, Corri. I’ve read your blog and there are many good works that you upload there. I love the article that you wrote about your meeting with Karrie! You are identically alike with her!
      If you ask me of what to do, one important point is that you are an individual being and Karrie is also an individual being. Even though you are twins, it also important to be individualized at certain stages. I have a lot of stories about twinship, because i have twin brothers and they have gone through what you are facing now, especially when one of them got married a few years back. But life must go on, the show must roll on. All the best for your model career!
      Keep in touch.

  5. I have twin boys now gonna be 19 years old. One of my boys went into the USAF and the other is completly out of his mind. He stays in his room all the time and crys. He says he can’t handle life and has failed all his classes in the first semester in college. The twin thats in England is fine. He misses his brother but is doing well. I am so afraid that the boy thats home, well he seems like he is sucidel. He told me he feels abandonded by his other half. He doesn’t want to do anything but stay in his room and cry, he punches the wall and make holes in it and carries on like he is a little baby who wants his toys. I pray for him but things don’t look good…… Will it ever get better?

    • Hi Debbie,

      The process of individuation in twin teenagers or young adult is much harder than any single individual. They have to separate themselves not just from their parents, but also from their co-twin, or their soulmate.

      In your case, you can ask your twin boy who is England at the moment. The objective is to ensure his twin brother that they will be able to carry on with their lives. This step of going to separate college is just the first step of their on going lives. They will have to build separate marriage life, career and many more. When one twin is depending to his co-twin, he will feel suffer – more suffering than his independent co-twin. That’s why he needs support from his co-twin.

      You can start explaining the situation to your son who’s doing fine. And start planning the strategy to help your son who’s at home. About the suicidal tendency, did you notice any obvious signs? Usually people with suicidal tendency will show odd behaviours – can be in negative ways or positive ways. These behaviours happen in a short period of time and quite dramatic or shocking for the people around that person.

      If you need further discussion, please send me email at cicilia_evi@yahoo.com

      I wish you well and your son too!

  6. Pingback: I want my Twinnn!: Separation Anxiety in Adult Twins « twinsy

  7. I have twin 8.5 year old boys and we are separating them for Grade 4. They were separated in Grade 1 but one of them found it very difficult because he wasn’t with any of his friends. They have had the same teacher for Grades 2 and 3 and they love school. They rely on each other and play together at home together all the time. They are beginning to fight and bicker more lately so the teacher suggested we separate them for Grade 4 and try to allow them to do a lot more things separately, especially through the summer. Their teachers say they need to work on acting more independent i.e. don’t rely so much on getting help from other peers and checking in to see what their brother is doing in class. Apparently, they will receive instructions from a teacher/leader, but then after instructions are given and the kids can proceed, they look to their peers first to see what they do before they will proceed to do the activity. Is this because they are so used to relying on others that they do trust themselves. Could you please give me a list of ideas for how I can help them become more comfortable in their skin learn better focusing skills and practise more independence. Thanks!
    Sharon

    • Hi Sharon,
      Looking at one another is one of many usual response show by twins whenever they have to do task on their own. They have a need of getting approval from one another. It is the mystery of twins!
      But it doesn’t mean that parents can’t do anything to be more independent. There are few simple ideas that you can start with:
      1. Buy different clothes for your boys. Even if they look cuter in the same outfits – they need to learn on how to dress up differently and not dependent on their co-twin.
      2. Assign them to different chores at home – one might be in charge of washing the dishes, the other might be with you cleaning up the table. Whenever you are with your twin boy (one boy at the moment) talk to him ans ask about his feeling, does he think that his co-twin can do his chores by himself? Ask open questions – so you know the state of every boy regarding their relationships. It will be good if you can notice the pattern of who is more dependent, or are both of them are dependent to each other? By knowing this, we know whom to talk to at the first place.
      3. Call each boy by their name – minimize the usual nickname: boys, twins, or duo. Calling each boy with their own name will help them ‘understand’ that they are individual with different identity.
      4. Process of individualization will take some times – don’t rush and leave hurt inside your boys. Talk to them separately about how great each and everyone of them. Encourage different hobby or activities and allow them to make their own choice on what game to play or what to do with mom or dad individually during weekends.

      I hope this list helps you with your boys! Send my kisses for them!

  8. I am struggling to adjust after my twin brother moved away a year ago (this month) to live in China. He is a few minutes older than me & we are fraternal, (male & female) We are in our late 20’s and have never been apart like this. We communicate about 3 times a week but less often when our birthday passed. I am having some trouble sleeping,uncontrollable crying, and about three months ago started to developed a drinking habit. I tried counselors; but they did not help, (recommended journaling). My relationships with the rest of the family not the same and I’m even having some trouble with my marriage. I haven’t been able to talk to my brother about this, and I want to support his foreign endeavors. Is there no remedy? Would this be any harder if he died?

    • If your separation anxiety cause many other problems in your life, then I believe you need to share it with your brother. I believe he wouldn’t mind to listen to you – since the two of you have never been apart like this. Try to talk to him and express how you feel. The point is not about bringing him back to your place, but to make you feel better – knowing that he is there for you, even though physically you are separated away. There will be no remedy, since it is not disease or illness. It is the bond, the attachment that own by twins. After all, even though you are twins, you still need to gain your own identity as a person, because you are unique!

      All the very best for you!

    • The separation anxiety is determined by the type of relationship between the two. If it is only one twin who is experiencing separation anxiety, most probably it is experienced by the dependent co-twin. If that’s the case, then you can ask help from the independent co-twin who does not experiencing separation anxiety to be there for the co-twin. Talk through the feelings and how they can deal with the situation together as twins. The most important thing is the dependent co-twin will not feel lonely and left behind by his/her co-twin.

  9. Cicilia,
    I just wanted to say that I appreciate all of your words of firm encouragement for twins suffering anxiety from separation. I am 21 and will soon be graduating college (the same one my twin attends) and we are headed different directions. I already am feeling a sense of overwhelming sorrow for the pending separation. I feel starting to deal with it now may be beneficial and what you have had to say has put some things in perspective.
    Thank you again and good luck with your research!

  10. Cecilia

    I have two year old grandchildren that are twins, boy and girl. They are about to be separated for the first time. The father will visit his parents and take the boy with him.

    The twins are different from each other. The boy is bigger and stronger and seems to be less depenent, but we will see. He is more extraverted and makes friends more quickly than his sister. They sleep in the same room at the same time and one will rarely leave the room until the other is awake. Allthough the boy is bigger he is never aggresive with his sister. If she takes something from him he sits down to cry. If he takes something from her she will take it back and then he will sit down and cry. They are very fond of each other and rarely argue.

    I am most cocerned about the girl during this separation. She will be at home in all of the familiar things and he will be gone. I am concerned that she will feel half is missing. The boy will be experiencing new things and will be kept busy with them.

    I am very much against this separation, but it could be for the better in the long run. What do you think ? Please tell me I am worried about nothing. My wife and I are 68 and 70 years old and these babies have brought new meaning to our life.

    Leon

    • Hi Leon,
      I believe you are such a great Grandpa for both your Grandchildren. The first experience of separation will never be a good experience for almost all twins. They are close to each other by nature – and therefore their closeness is beyond any single child with their siblings.

      I believe your Granddaughter will be fine. What you can do is create a great time with her and the other family member – do something that she never did before. Bring her around to new places and have fun. The objective is to show her that even though her twin is not there with her, she can learn to love and be loved by other family members. If you can pack this ‘awful separation experience’ as something fun, she will be have a great time with you.

      It will be wise for you to also prepare if she’s experiencing sadness or gloomy days. See that as a part of her individuation process. She will need that when she grows up. And if she has the chance to learn it now, then she will have nothing to worry about when they apply at different colleges or university.

      Send my warm regards to your twins!

      Cicilia

  11. Hi Cicilia,
    After coming straight to your article, I was hoping you may be able to give me your thoughts. My non-identical twin died at birth, so therefore I never ‘knew’ him. I am now 32 and have been suffering from depression for many many years now, which is not common in the family. I was always a nervous child and always found it difficult to socialise and feel comftorble around people. I tend to latch on to one person at a time and try to form special friendships/relationships.This has never worked out for me, and get the feeling it may be too much for people, as well it always ends badly. I’ve always wondered if this could be some form of seperation anxiety, and if in some way i’m psychologically trying to form that possible closeness with someone, as I may have done with a twin?

    • Hi James,
      How long ago did you find out about your non-identical twin? The death and all the details?
      If you found out since you were very young, it is possible that you might think about that in unconscious way. When a child hears about bad news, one may unconsciously think about the issue and can’t help themselves out from the issue – because they don’t have the capacity to solve such conflicts.
      I think the best way for you is to see a professional where you live and try to work on your depression symptoms. if you want to contact me, please write through my email address cicilia_evi@yahoo.com

      All the best for you, James.

  12. Hi Cecilia,
    You have been so amazing with your kind words and support in helping me overcome my separation anxiety. The work that you do for twins and others is so important, as I recognized with my own difficulties separating from my identical twin sister for college last Fall. I have even been able to express my own beliefs at http://www.separatetwin.wordpress.com in order to share my story, and I wanted to encourage other people who are struggling with twin issues to visit!
    Hope you’re doing well and speak to you soon!
    -Blake

  13. I am a 46 year twin sister and just moved back to my home state where my twin lives. I have lived away for 30 years but my sister never left our small state and got to explore and experience the world as I did. Since moving back my sister and I have had many issues, one of which as soon as I started seeing someone she did a back ground check without my knowledge and starting asking around about the man I am seeing. She came to me and told me not to see him. She has been dating a man for 6 years and recently got engaged. I thought it would help her with her separation anxiety but it’s worse and it drives her fiance’ crazy and tells me he can take much more. She on the other hands thinks I’m crazy for staying with my boyfriend after finding out some not so colorful things and refuses to be around him. She has gone so far as to talk to my parents and other family and friends and some have sided with her. It’s been so difficult, I actually sometimes wish I didn’t move back…

  14. i am an 18 year old twin and me and my brother seperated for the first time, we even slept in the same room at this age, and now theres 5000 miles in between us, and honestly i never thought it would get this bad, im severly troubled all day long, im not sure but last week i think i attempted to commit suicide, but idk im not sure whats going on with me, all i can think about is leaving and comming home, im severely homesick and suffering from severe adult separation disorder, i think i need help, its out of the question….

    • Hang in there! It gets better, I promise! I have a twin sister and we even went to the same college for four years. I’m now separated for her by a distance and it sucks but there is always the phone and email and visits! I recommend seeing a therapist if it is troubling you to the point where you are at. Talking will really help! Wishing you the best in this very difficult time.

      • Hi Ernie!
        I really appreciate your support for all the twins who are having the same difficulties in separation as adults.
        And you’re right, by talking about the problems constantly will help a lot in ‘neutralizing’ the feeling.
        My regards to your twin sister.

        Cicilia

    • Hi Zeze,
      Thank you writing to me. I appreciate your honesty in sharing your condition.
      It’s never been easy for twins to be separated away from his twin, especially when there was no separation process before – sleep in different room or go to the different school.
      When you’re away from your twin, it doesn’t mean that you have to throw away all the good memories or the usual activities that used to be done with your twin. You can always call him, text or meeting together every now and then. The point is to keep the relationship close at heart (you already had a special bond as a twin!) and at the same time, growing yourself as an independent individual. This individualized process is very important for you – in order to get your own identity – as Zeze.

      If you want to contact me personally, please email me at cicilia_evi@yahoo.com
      I will be glad to help you.

      Regards,
      Cicilia

  15. I have a very close relationship with my twin sister,we have just turned 31.I went to australia for 6 months a few years ago with my boyfriend and it devasted her. I fell in love with the country and loved my time there-although I missed her so much. She cried all the time,and I felt so guilty.since I came back, to the UK, I have never stopped thinking of a life in australia and the life I could have.I would love to move but it would be unbearable for my sister,and its torturing me about what I should do. I dont know if I could do it.She has a house and a fiance in the UK and I know she wouldnt move to australia with me. I just dont know what to do. I spoke to her about it once,but it upset her so much,we dont even speak of it at all any more. If you have any advice i would love to hear from some one who does is not my family,

    • Hi Sally. Thank you for being so honest and open regarding your problems. I think you already made the most important first step, talking to your sister. It is not easy and won’t be easier, but by talking about it, the two of you will learn to face the reality of being an individualized individual. At a comfortable time, start a new discussion with your sister. Go to a professional with her – because it will give the two of you a stronger stand to hold. Each one of you deserves a life full of happiness and adventure. I wish you will have the strength to start talking again and hopefully by having a professional help, this time will bring a different ending. Hang in there!

      You can read previous comments for this post and see that you are not alone. Many twins out there were in your shoes, but they could handle the problems one at a time.

      Contact me through my email cicilia_evi@yahoo.com anytime.

  16. Hi, I’m 16, almost 17, and have a fraternal, twin brother. When we were little we always stuck together. We were companions and pretty much best friends. At school, I would try to follow my twin around because I wanted to continue to be friends with him, but he was embarrassed around his peers. Our freshman year of high school, his academics began to drop as he tried to push himself into the “in crowd”. So, my mom sent him to a male boarding school. I didn’t think I would be sad, but the day he left to go, I started balling my eyes out. A few months later, I began to get depression, and by Christmas time that year, I started to get severe anxiety attacks. They continued to progress and get worse and worse, until I finally got with a psychologist in early 2012. At that point, I was ready to kill myself (you can’t even begin to imagine how bad my anxiety was. I wasn’t afraid of certain things, really, I was just afraid… Of nothing? Though later I began to develop fears). Whenever I would see my brother during his home visits, I would be so happy that my anxiety would nearly fade! Now, as a junior, I still am getting bad anxiety attacks (due to more life events involving my brother) and have noticed a correlation between my mental stability and my brother’s presence. I’m glad to have read this article so I could have some form of comfort and to see if this was at all even possible. Thank you.

    • Hi Vikky! I appreciate your willingness to share your story. How are you now? I hope you’re getting better in balancing your situation regarding your brother.

      I see that you are having such a deep relationship toward your brother and tend to depend your well-being with his whereabout. I think the key is in how you interpret your relationship with him. How you see your brother – is he your guardian, best friend, safety place? If yes, then it can explains your tendency to hold on to him. There’s nothing wrong to be very close to your twin, but when that pattern starts to disturb your life, then you will need to set a new point of view, a new stand to see your relationship.

      If you need to write to me, don’t hesitate. Please write to cicilia_ evi @ yahoo.com.

  17. Hi i have been seperated from my twin for just 2 weeks were identical girls 19 years old. Since we’ve been seperated she has been gettin sick cnt sleep nd cant eat .. the doctor says she may be depressed hw can I help her as I am coping fine by myself .. please reply soon thank you

  18. Hi. I’m an identical twin and my sister is about to move out and I already have anxiety at the thought of her leaving. I have cried every night ever since I found out she would be leaving. I can’t tell her this because I don’t want her to feel compelled to stay with me. The bond between us is very strong and nobody else gets it. The fact that she’s moving away just tears me apart. I’m hoping texting and visiting will help some but I don’t know if it will ever go away completely. She’s practically me. Another me. And her moving away is like taking half of me away.

    • Hi, twin. My apology for not being active in the past few months due to maternity leave. How are you now? and how is she doing? I am hoping that time can help you ease the burden of separation with your twin sister.
      Just contact me through my email (cicilia_evi@yahoo.com) if you need to talk about it. Take care!

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