What is Adjustment Disorder?

Friday, 10 May 2013 0 comments

Adjustment disorder is a short-term condition that occurs when a person is unable to cope with, or adjust to, a particular source of stress, such as a major life change, loss, or event. Because people with adjustment disorders often have symptoms of depression, it is sometimes called “situational depression.” The type of stress that can trigger adjustment disorder varies depending on the person, but can include:

- Ending of a relationship or marriage
- Losing or changing job
- Death of a loved one
- Developing a serious illness (yourself or a loved one)
- Being a victim of a crime
- Having an accident
- Undergoing a major life change (such as getting married, having a baby, or retiring from a job)
- Living through a disaster, such as a fire, flood, or hurricane

Adjustment disorder can have a wide variety of symptoms, which may include:
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Sadness
- Frequent crying
- Anxiety
- Worry
- Headaches
- Stomach aches
- Heart palpitations
- Withdrawal or isolation from people and social activities
- Absence from work or school
- Dangerous or destructive behavior, such as fighting, reckless driving, and vandalism
- Changes in appetite, either loss of appetite, or overeating
- Problems sleeping
- Feeling tired or without energy
- Increase in the use of alcohol or other drugs

Adjustment disorder can occur in anyone, and at any age.
In terms of treatment, counseling or psychotherapy are the most common approaches.  Therapy helps the person understand how the stressor has affected his or her life. It also helps the person develop better coping skills. Support groups can also be helpful by allowing the person to discuss his or her concerns and feelings with people who are coping with the same stress. In some cases, medication may be used to help control anxiety symptoms or sleeping problems.
Most people with adjustment disorder recover completely. In fact, a person who is treated for adjustment disorder may learn new skills that actually allow him or her to function better than before the symptoms began.

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