What in the world is an Adjustment Disorder?

Posted By: on September 26, 2019
Girl with adjustment disorder

Change happens to all of us, at any point in our lives, but how we cope with those changes can vary from person to person. Some accept, even embrace change, while others find change to be stressful, upsetting and too much to bear.

Of course, a lot depends upon the nature of the change as to how we react to it, and while some changes may typically be viewed as positive, such as a promotion at work or the birth of a child, some of us struggle with the more challenging transitions and we may feel anxious, depressed or upset before, during and after such changes.

For those struggling to cope with change and finding that their lives are negatively affected by their emotions around it, it may be that they are suffering from an adjustment disorder.

What can constitute as ‘life change’?

A significant change in a person’s life can be anything from losing a job, getting divorced, giving birth, moving to a new place, surviving an accident or getting a job promotion, to name but a few. For some of those who face stressful situations every day, they may go on to develop an adjustment disorder, too.

How is an adjustment disorder best defined?

In the simplest of terms, an adjustment disorder can occur when an event causes more stress than the individual can comfortably handle, and their reaction to the stressor becomes exaggerated. Sometimes looking like a ‘situational depression’, the symptoms are not dissimilar to those of other depressive states, such as uncontrollable feelings of sadness or waves of anger.

However, symptoms of an adjustment disorder are specifically and exclusively prompted by stressors, such as those mentioned above, and typically resolve themselves once the individual has adjusted to the new circumstances.

How many types of adjustment disorder are there?

Displaying different signs and symptoms, there are 6 types of adjustment disorders (ADs) and include: AD couples with

  • a depressed mood
  • with anxiety
  • with a depressed mood and anxiety
  • with disturbance of conduct
  • with disturbance of conduct and anxiety or depressed mood
  • unspecified


Who is most at risk of developing an adjustment disorder?

Some experts believe that those individuals who have experienced high or continued levels of stress during childhood, may be more at risk of developing an adjustment disorder.

A child may have felt utterly helpless and unable to control certain situations, which can lead to feelings of fear, sadness and even anger when they reach adulthood and are faced with changes in their life. Those who don’t have a strong support network or who have historically not reacted well to change may be at a higher risk, too.

What should you do if you think you have an adjustment disorder?

While it may be true that most adjustment disorders resolve themselves over time, if you’re feeling overwhelmed with certain things that may be happening in your life, and are unable to function normally as a result, then you may wish to seek professional help.

Anything that impedes your ability to live a fulfilled life is worth taking seriously, especially if you are struggling to cope. We’d encourage you to get support if you feel you’re struggling with an adjustment disorder. 

Learn more at https://carlscounseling.com

Related Post