Adjustment disorder is an abnormal and excessive reaction to an identifiable life stressor. The reaction is more severe than would normally be expected and can result in significant impairment in social, occupational, or academic functioning. Symptoms must arise within three months of the onset of the stressor and last no longer than six months after the stressor has ended.
The response may be linked to a single event (a flood or fire, marriage, divorce, starting school, a new job) or multiple events (marital problems or severe business difficulties). Stressors may be recurrent events (a child witnessing parents constantly fighting, chemotherapy, financial difficulties) or continuous (living in a crime-ridden neighborhood).
Adjustment disorder often occurs with one or more of the following: depressed mood, anxiety, disturbance of conduct (in which the patient violates rights of others or major age-appropriate societal norms or rules), and maladaptive reactions (i.e. problems related to work or school, physical complaints, social isolation).
Adjustment disorders are associated with high risk of suicide and suicidal behavior, substance abuse, and the prolongation of other medical disorders or interference with their treatment. Adjustment disorder that persists may progress to become a more severe mental disorder, such as major depressive disorder.
Adjustment disorder is sometimes referred to as Situational Depression.
There are six different types of adjustment disorders. Each type is associated with different symptoms:
People diagnosed with this type of adjustment disorder tend to experience feelings of sadness and hopelessness. It’s also associated with crying. You may also find that you no longer enjoy activities that you formerly enjoyed.
Symptoms associated with adjustment disorder with anxiety include feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and worried. People with this disorder may also have problems with concentration and memory. For children, this diagnosis is usually associated with separation anxiety from parents and loved ones.
People with this kind of adjustment disorder experience both depression and anxiety.
Symptoms of this type of adjustment disorder mainly involve behavioral issues like driving recklessly or starting fights. Teens with this disorder may steal or vandalize property. They might also start missing school.
Symptoms linked to this type of adjustment disorder include depression, anxiety, and behavioral problems.
Those diagnosed with adjustment disorder unspecified have symptoms that aren’t associated with the other types of adjustment disorder. These often include physical symptoms or problems with friends, family, work, or school.
Signs and symptoms depend on the type of adjustment disorder and can vary from person to person. You experience more stress than would normally be expected in response to a stressful event, and the stress causes significant problems in your life. Adjustment disorders affect how you feel and think about yourself and the world and may also affect your actions or behavior.
The mental and physical symptoms associated with adjustment disorder usually occur during or immediately after you experience a stressful event. While the disorder lasts no longer than six months, your symptoms may continue if the stressor isn’t removed. Some people have just one symptom. Others may experience many symptoms.
The mental symptoms of adjustment disorders can include:
There is one type of adjustment disorder that is associated with physical symptoms as well as psychological ones. These physical symptoms can include:
The cause of adjustment disorder is a life stressor. In adults, adjustment disorder is commonly a result of stressors related to marital discord, finances, or work. In adolescents, common stressors include school problems, family or parents’ marital problems, or issues around sexuality. Other types of stressors include the death of a loved one, life changes, unexpected catastrophes, and medical conditions such as cancer and subsequent treatments.
Factors that influence how well a person reacts to stress may include economic conditions, availability of social supports, and occupational and recreational opportunities. Susceptibility to stress may include such factors as social skills, intelligence, genetics and existing coping strategies.
Some things may make you more likely to have an adjustment disorder.
Stressful life events — both positive and negative — may put you at risk of developing an adjustment disorder. For example:
Life experiences can impact how you cope with stress. For example, your risk of developing an adjustment disorder may be increased if you:
If adjustment disorders do not resolve, they can eventually lead to more serious mental health problems such as anxiety disorders, depression or substance abuse.
If you or your loved one is exhibiting the above signs then come consult with an expert psychiatrist with full confidence. Avoid self-medication.