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Adjustment Disorder

Adjustment disorder is a mental health condition characterized by emotional and behavioral symptoms that develop in response to a stressful life event or change.

Adjustment Disorder

What is an Adjustment Disorder?

A stressful life event or shift can lead to adjustment disorder, a mental health illness that is defined by emotional and behavioral symptoms. Changes in behavior, anxiety, and depression are a few examples of these symptoms. Within three months of the stressful incident, the symptoms must show up and be more severe than usual. The problem typically gets better on its own within six months, but in certain situations, it can need treatment, including therapy or medicine.

How many people are affected by Adjustment Disorder?

Any age, gender, or background can be impacted by adjustment disorder. According to estimates, it makes up up to 20% of mental health diagnoses in various professional settings, making it a rather frequent mental health disease. Although it can affect adults as well, it is more frequently diagnosed in children and teenagers. An adjustment disorder may be more likely to develop in those who have gone through a major life transition or traumatic event, such as the death of a loved one, the end of a relationship, losing a job, or facing financial troubles. A person may also be more prone to having the illness if they have a history of mental health issues or inadequate social support.

What are the symptoms of Adjustment Disorder?

  • Depending on the individual and the stressful life event or transition they have gone through, adjustment disorder symptoms can vary greatly. However, some widespread signs might be:

  • Feeling sad or depressed

  • Feeling anxious or worried

  • Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much

  • Loss of interest in activities that were previously enjoyed

  • Crying spells

  • Feeling overwhelmed or stressed

  • Changes in appetite or weight

  • Physical symptoms, such as headaches or stomach aches

  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions

  • Avoiding social situations or withdrawing from relationships

  • Acting out, engaging in reckless behavior, or becoming aggressive

  • Difficulty coping with daily tasks or responsibilities.

What are the diagnosis criteria for Adjustment disorder?

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5), the diagnosis criteria for Adjustment Disorder are:

  • The presence of emotional or behavioral symptoms in response to an identifiable stressor(s) that occurs within three months of the stressor(s).

  • The symptoms are clinically significant, meaning they are more severe than what would normally be expected in response to the stressor(s) and/or they are causing significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other areas of functioning.

  • The symptoms do not meet the criteria for another mental disorder, or if they do, they are clearly related to the stressor(s) and are in excess of what would normally be expected.

  • The symptoms are not due to a normal bereavement response to the death of a loved one.

It's important to note that the stressor(s) can be a single event or multiple events, and may be acute or chronic. The symptoms of Adjustment Disorder may subside within six months of the removal of the stressor(s), but if they persist or become more severe, further evaluation and treatment may be needed.

What therapies and medications are used to treat Adjustment Disorder?

Adjustment disorder may be treated using a number of different methods and therapies. These may consist of:

Psychotherapy: The negative ideas and behaviors connected to adjustment disorder may be addressed by talk therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Therapy can assist people with stress management, communication improvement, and coping skill development.

  • Medication: Antidepressants or anxiety drugs, for example, may occasionally be administered to help control adjustment disorder symptoms. When taking medication, it's critical to work closely with a healthcare professional.

  • family members' assistance: In order to effectively manage the symptoms of adjustment disorder, it can be highly beneficial to have strong social support from friends and family. It's critical to be honest and upfront with loved ones about your wants and sentiments.

  • Self-care: Stress can be reduced and mood can be improved by taking care of oneself through exercise, a good diet, and enjoyment of recreational hobbies.

  • Stress reduction: Acquiring stress-reduction skills, such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga, might help people more effectively deal with the stressors that lead to adjustment disorder.

  • The optimum course of treatment for each person should be decided in collaboration with a mental health specialist. The majority of the time, adjustment disorder is adequately managed and treated.

This content is provided for informational and entertainment value only. It is not a replacement for a trained professional's diagnosis or for the treatment of any illness. If you feel like you are struggling with this condition, it is important to seek help from a mental health professional. With the right treatment and support, individuals with this condition can learn to manage their symptoms and lead fulfilling lives. BetterPsych provides full psychological services via telehealth and offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee on our services. For more information and to find a therapist specializing in this disorder, please call (833) 496-5011, or visit

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