Adjustment Disorder

Adjustment Disorder

Adjustment Disorder

Adjustment disorder (AjD) is diagnosed when a person starts showing an excessive, extreme reaction to a stressful life event such as the death of a loved one, a job loss, or divorce.

While each of these examples can cause considerable distress, having AjD means the person can’t function at an expected level in a job, learning environment, social setting, or other important area of functioning.

Characteristics

Adjustment disorder is a type of anxiety disorder. It’s characterized by:

Emotional and behavioral disturbances such as:

  • feeling sad, anxious, or overwhelmed
  • social withdrawal

Difficulties with activities of daily living such as: washing and cleaning

Prevalence

Adjustment disorder is a common condition that has a prevalence that ranges from 3 – 10% in regular healthcare settings. It is often undiagnosed by family doctors. Adjustment disorder can be diagnosed in both children and adults; however, children with AjD tend to show it through their behavior (acting out) rather than through their emotional state (a depressed mood). Adult women are diagnosed with adjustment disorder twice as often as adult men.

Diagnosing Adjustment Disorder:

For a diagnosis of adjustment disorder to be made, a stressful life event causing the disorder is necessary. AjD symptoms start showing up within three months of a stressful life event, and they last for fewer than six months providing the stressor is gone; but if the stress is ongoing, adjustment disorder can persist and become chronic.

Adjustment Disorder complications:

The complications of adjustment disorder include:

  • Suicidal behavior (up to one-fifth of adolescent suicide victims may have an adjustment disorder).
  • Progression to a more serious mental illness such as major depressive disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Treatment for Adjustment Disorder:

Treatment for adjustment disorder can be highly effective and includes talking therapies such as:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • And/or medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors

The duration of treatment is often brief but can last for longer in people with persistent or chronic adjustment disorder, particularly if the stressor is ongoing.

Diagnosing Adjustment Disorder:

For a diagnosis of adjustment disorder to be made, a stressful life event causing the disorder is necessary. AjD symptoms start showing up within three months of a stressful life event, and they last for fewer than six months providing the stressor is gone; but if the stress is ongoing, adjustment disorder can persist and become chronic.

Adjustment Disorder complications:

The complications of adjustment disorder include:

  • Suicidal behavior (up to one-fifth of adolescent suicide victims may have an adjustment disorder).
  • Progression to a more serious mental illness such as major depressive disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Treatment for Adjustment Disorder:

Treatment for adjustment disorder can be highly effective and includes talking therapies such as:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • And/or medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors

The duration of treatment is often brief but can last for longer in people with persistent or chronic adjustment disorder, particularly if the stressor is ongoing.

Source mayoclinic.org