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Adjustment Disorder Symptoms: What Is Adjustment Disorder?

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Table of Contents

  • Adjustment Disorders Overview
  • What Is an Adjustment Disorder?
  • Adjustment Disorder Symptoms
  • What Causes of Adjustment Disorders?
  • Risk Factors for Adjustment Disorders
  • Symptoms of Adjustment Disorders
  • Adjustment Disorder Treatment
  • Preventing Adjustment Disorders


Adjustment Disorder Symptoms: What Is Adjustment Disorder?

Adjustment disorders are a form of mental health condition that can result from stress and overwhelming life events. The symptoms may vary, but they typically include emotional distress or behavioral changes caused by the event(s). What are the signs someone is experiencing an adjustment disorder? How do you know if it’s time to speak with your doctor about getting treatment for an adjustment disorder? We hope this blog post has helped answer some questions for you! Contact us today to set up an appointment at our office in South Florida to help you get on track.

Adjustment disorders are the most commonly diagnosed mental health issues, and they may be interpreted in children, adolescents, and adults. Most studies report that about 1% of the population may have an adjustment disorder at any given time


Adjustment Disorders Overview

A stress disorder refers to a person's unhealthy emotional or behavioral reaction when experiencing an event or change that causes distress. Some common occurrences that could lead to an adjustment disorder in your child or adolescent are a family move, the parents’ divorce or separation, the loss of a pet, or the birth of a sibling. A sudden illness or restriction to your child’s life due to chronic disease may also result in an adjustment response.

What Is an Adjustment Disorder?

An adjustment disorder is a mental health condition that most commonly affects adolescents and young adults. It can occur after an individual experiences a stressful or traumatic event, such as the death of a loved one, divorce, or loss of employment. An adjustment disorder can also happen if someone has been exposed to ongoing stress in their life, such as dealing with family members with whom they constantly argue. Adjustment disorder is a risk factor for developing other mental health conditions, such as depression and substance abuse.

For more than 50 years, clinicians have been using the term "adjustment disorder" to describe individuals struggling to deal with a particularly stressful situation or ongoing circumstance that causes distress. Due to changes in our healthcare system, however, this unofficial medical diagnosis may be outdated. To better understand what an adjustment disorder is -- as well as how it might affect your mental health -- it is essential to explore the current terminology used by medical professionals.

Adjustment Disorder Symptoms

Adjustment disorder symptoms can vary from person to person. Some people experience symptoms in emotions and mood, while others may feel physical discomfort or pain. Sometimes it is a combination of both.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and adjustment disorder are closely related because they share some similar characteristics. Adjustment disorder differs from PTSD in that the adverse event causing the onset happens within three months of occurrence, while in PTSD, it is outside that time frame. The specific traumatic event required for PTSD isn't always clear cut; this can lead to underdiagnosis where the affected individual doesn't understand what triggered their condition - a common scenario with minor traumas such as auto accidents and injuries sustained during sporting events. Adverse events that may cause adjustment disorder



  • The development of emotional or behavioral symptoms in response to an identifiable stressor occurring within three months of the onset of the stressor
  • The symptoms and behaviors must be clinically significant as evidenced by one or both of the following; marked distress that is out of proportion to the severity or intensity of the stressor and/or significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning

The symptoms must not persist for more than six months after the stressor has ended, and they must also be out of proportion to that person's culture. They cannot represent normal bereavement because it is considered a mental disorder if someone normal or in any other way.
To meet criteria for PTSD treatment, there are some specific requirements one needs to have completed before seeking help from a psychologist such as these: firstly, the individual's reactions should last less than six months at most; secondly, their response can't just reflect what people see all around them (like negative thoughts); thirdly, even though grief could count as an emotional response on its own - which may lead into depression- when you're grieving over


indicating if the symptom is an adjustment disorder:

  • depressed mood – low mood, tearfulness, or feelings of hopelessness are predominant
  • anxiety – Nervousness, worrying, jitteriness, or separation anxiety is predominant.
  • mixed anxiety and depressed mood – A combination of depression and anxiety is prevalent.
  • disturbance of conduct – Behavioral changes are predominant
  • mixed disturbance of emotions and conduct – Both emotional symptoms (depression and anxiety) and a disturbance of conduct are predominant. Both emotional symptoms (depression, anxiety) and a disturbance of conduct are predominant
  • Unspecified – For maladaptive reactions that are not classifiable as one of the specific subtypes of the adjustment disorder, For maladaptive reactions that are not classifiable as one of the specific subtypes of the adjustment disorder

What Causes of Adjustment Disorders?

In this article, we will discuss what causes adjustment disorder. We'll start with the symptoms of an adjustment disorder and how it can cause additional problems in your life. Then we'll talk about some possible causes of adjustment disorder. What are the signs that you may need help with your adjustment disorder? What treatments work best for treating this condition? This information is essential for anyone who is going through a particularly stressful time or change; since many people develop an adjustment disorder when they move to a new location, go through a divorce, have experienced business failure, or another major
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Adjustment disorders are a reaction to an event. There is no direct cause between the stressful event and the response, but rather many factors that play into it, like temperament, past experiences, and coping skills, all of which vary from person to person.

Stressors vary in how long they last, the strength of their effect, and what kind of impact each one has on a person. One factor that influences an individual's reaction to stress is falling developmentally about coping skills for dealing with specific stresses.

People react differently under stressful situations depending on things like a developmental stage, ability level-related needs explicitly relating to the particular case at hand, and other factors such as duration and intensity, which can depend on their age and developmental ability. Their situation also matters; for example, a person with poor motor skills may be more affected by something that causes them pain or prevents the use of their limbs than someone who is not disabled. The factors affecting how much an individual will respond vary from the intensity (how strong) as well as duration (length), so it's essential to get professional advice about your specific needs related to managing these types of issues to protect yourself against the detrimental effects long-term exposure can have.No evidence is available to suggest a particular factor that causes adjustment disorders. Experts believe many variables may interact together to bring about these disorders. Some factors contributing to adjustment disorder include

These factors may also impact your adjustment.:

  • Past life experience – Significant stress during childhood may place you at a greater risk of developing mental health problems, including an adjustment disorder.
  • Other mental health issues – Pre-existing mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety, may place you at a higher risk of developing an adjustment disorder.
  • Difficult life circumstances – Having more stress on a day-to-day basis in your life may make it more difficult for you to tolerate one more stressful change.

Risk Factors for Adjustment Disorders

Risk factors for adjustment disorder typically involve an individual facing a significant stressor, conflict, or crisis. Individuals who deal with the death of a loved one, divorce or separation from a spouse, getting fired from their job, or medical problems such as cancer may be at risk for developing adjustment disorder. Other common causes of adjustment disorders include:

- dealing with other stressful life events and circumstances
- having a difficult childhood that included abuse or neglect
- experiencing trauma in adulthood
- experiencing interpersonal difficulties in personal relationships
- coping with stress over a long period (e.g., working too many hours or struggling to meet financial demands)

It's hard to adjust when everything around you is changing. From school, friends, family dynamics—you name it! Sometimes kids and teens need a little help coping with the stress of these changes in their lives. Adjustment disorders are pervasive among children and adolescents alike because they're always going through so many different phases of life all at once: growing up and coming into adulthood; dealing with puberty rates which can be trickier for some than others; trying to figure out whom they want to become as humans beings while still figuring what human means in general being. It may sound like an impossible task, but adjusting doesn't have to mean uncomfortable or stress!

As per recent studies and data collected by psychologists on developmental psychology's effects in children and adolescents, it is believed that symptoms are different from those seen in adult counterparts. This may be due to less experience or more susceptibility to mood swings which can lead some people to poorer outcomes if not taken care of properly. As such behavior impedes their ability to function normally as they would before their disorder surfaced- ranging from poor school performance up until suicide rates - parents should take these risks seriously so early intervention services could assist them through what will hopefully only last a few months at most.


Symptoms of Adjustment Disorders

In all adjustment disorders, the reaction to the stressor is excessive to what would be otherwise expected. Also, the response should significantly interfere with social, occupational, or educational functioning. Additionally, age can affect: Differences are found in the symptoms experienced, how long they last, how strong they are, and their effect. Adolescent symptoms of adjustment disorders can be more behavioral, such as acting out. Adults who experience adjustment diseases exhibit more depressive symptoms.

There are six subtypes of adjustment disorder that are based on the type of significant symptoms experienced. The following are the most common symptoms of each of the subtypes of adjustment disorder. However, each adolescent may experience symptoms.

The above symptoms are not the only signs of adjustment disorder. Other common symptoms include:
- Dissociation (feeling disconnected from oneself), particularly derealization (a perception that surroundings and events seem unrealistic).
- Physical complaints such as headaches, stomachaches, or muscle aches do not result from a known medical condition.
- Mood changes such as feeling hopeless, helpless, sad, irritable, and anxious.
- Changes in eating patterns or habits that were previously healthy. An example is a change in energy level where the person may have been very energetic before experiencing adjustment disorder but now feels exhausted all of the time. Also worth noting is weight loss or gain when no change was made to diet or exercise routines.
- Loneliness and feeling of not fitting in socially.
- Clumsiness, lack of coordination, or poor handwriting.

In some cases, a person can experience adjustment disorder without experiencing any major symptoms at all. The signs could be subtle and harder to detect because the reaction is less severe than other types of adjustment disorders. Minor adjustment disorder is most often seen in teens who do not have a previous history of mental health issues and are grappling with an event that occurs suddenly without warning: such as getting into trouble for breaking the rules or regulations at school or home, a broken relationship, family discord or recent loss.

The above list is not all-inclusive but provides information about some common symptoms that adolescents may show when they suffer from an adjustment disorder.

Some individuals experience adjustment disorders, and some people do not. The answer lies in how a person's brain is functioning before experiencing stress or stressful event. If a person has previously experienced trauma, including abuse and neglect, it can increase the risk of developing adjustment disorder symptoms in reaction to smaller events later in life. Trauma is when an individual experiences physical violence such as sexual or emotional abuse, bullying, or threats from another person. Stressful events that are considered traumatic include natural disasters (such as floods), war/conflict (the threat of violence or death), and accidents that cause serious injuries leading to extended hospitalization.

Adjustment Disorder Treatment

Many people with adjustment disorders find that treatment helps them ease their distress and move past a stressful event. Treatment often consists of talk therapy, medication, or a combination of the two.
Specific treatment for adjustment disorders will be decided by your adolescent’s health care provider based on:


  • Your adolescent’s age, overall health and medical history
  • Extent of your adolescent’s symptoms
  • Subtype of the adjustment disorder
  • Your adolescent’s tolerance for specific therapies
  • Expectations for the course of the stressful event
  • Your opinion or preference

Preventing Adjustment Disorders

When it comes to preventing adjustment disorders in adolescents, preventive measures are not known at this time. However, early discovery and getting professional help for your adolescent can reduce the severity of symptoms, enhancing average growth and development, and improving your child’s quality of life.











This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 RoxyFlown

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