Adjustment Disorders

Posted May 30, 2018

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Summary

  • An overreaction to a stressful event or events
  • Goes well beyond the point of normal grieving or concern
  • Outlook for those with an adjustment disorder is good

We live in stressful times. There is no avoiding it. We usually can deal with the minor stresses in life. We easily bounce back from things like traffic jams or getting caught in the rain. Major stresses, like losing a job, having a child, or getting a divorce are harder. Sometimes they may seem like they are too much to handle. If you find you are not able to move on from stressful events, you could have an adjustment disorder.

Signs and symptoms

Adjustment disorders affect your thoughts, feelings, and actions. They are the result of a stressful event or lifestyle and can lead to worry and despair. As the name suggests, people with this disorder have trouble “readjusting.” They feel more stress than should be expected and for a longer period of time. Sometimes this feeling goes away once the cause of the stress is removed. In other cases, it may last up to three to six months or even longer. This buildup of stress can lead to a number of challenges.

A person with an adjustment disorder may experience any of the following:

  • Withdrawal
  • Sadness
  • Worry
  • Nervousness
  • Hopelessness
  • Lack of sleep or hunger
  • Trouble staying focused
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Thoughts of suicide

Diagnosis

Adjustment disorders are often overlooked. Doctors are more likely to look at more well-known ailments first. Sometimes it is confused with post-traumatic stress disorder, for instance. It can also look like other depressive or anxiety disorders. The right diagnosis may be made after first ruling out other mental or physical issues.

The key is that this illness is an overreaction to a stressful event or events. Adjustment disorders go well beyond the point of normal grieving or concern. They continue to cause trouble dealing with daily duties at work, home, or school. A thorough mental health exam is needed for proper diagnosis.

Treatment

Talk therapy is the preferred method of treatment for this disorder. Besides private talk therapy, your doctor may suggest group, couples, or family therapy. This will provide you with the much needed support of others in your recovery. You will also learn valuable coping skills.

Sometimes medications may also be used to help with feelings of sadness or worry. Treatment may be short-term or long-term. This often depends on if the stress factor is a one-time event or ongoing. Even if you start to feel better, do not stop taking any prescribed medications on your own. First talk it over with your doctor.

Recovery

The outlook for those with adjustment disorders is good. A positive attitude and the support of family and friends will go a long way. Do not be afraid to reach out to others for help. Call your doctor or have someone make the call for you. You do not need to face this alone. If you feel like you may harm yourself or others, get help right away. Call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.

By Kevin Rizzo
Source: "Adjustment Disorders," Mayo Clinic, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/adjustment-disorders/symptoms-causes/syc-20355224 and www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/adjustment-disorders/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20355230; "Adjustment Disorder" by Rachna Lal, M.D. and Dean F. Mackinnon, M.D., John Hopkins Medicine, www.hopkinsguides.com/hopkins/view/Johns_Hopkins_Psychiatry_Guide/787068/all/Adjustment_Disorder
Reviewed by Sherrie Sharp, M.D., F.A.P.A., Vice President, Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

Summary

  • An overreaction to a stressful event or events
  • Goes well beyond the point of normal grieving or concern
  • Outlook for those with an adjustment disorder is good

We live in stressful times. There is no avoiding it. We usually can deal with the minor stresses in life. We easily bounce back from things like traffic jams or getting caught in the rain. Major stresses, like losing a job, having a child, or getting a divorce are harder. Sometimes they may seem like they are too much to handle. If you find you are not able to move on from stressful events, you could have an adjustment disorder.

Signs and symptoms

Adjustment disorders affect your thoughts, feelings, and actions. They are the result of a stressful event or lifestyle and can lead to worry and despair. As the name suggests, people with this disorder have trouble “readjusting.” They feel more stress than should be expected and for a longer period of time. Sometimes this feeling goes away once the cause of the stress is removed. In other cases, it may last up to three to six months or even longer. This buildup of stress can lead to a number of challenges.

A person with an adjustment disorder may experience any of the following:

  • Withdrawal
  • Sadness
  • Worry
  • Nervousness
  • Hopelessness
  • Lack of sleep or hunger
  • Trouble staying focused
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Thoughts of suicide

Diagnosis

Adjustment disorders are often overlooked. Doctors are more likely to look at more well-known ailments first. Sometimes it is confused with post-traumatic stress disorder, for instance. It can also look like other depressive or anxiety disorders. The right diagnosis may be made after first ruling out other mental or physical issues.

The key is that this illness is an overreaction to a stressful event or events. Adjustment disorders go well beyond the point of normal grieving or concern. They continue to cause trouble dealing with daily duties at work, home, or school. A thorough mental health exam is needed for proper diagnosis.

Treatment

Talk therapy is the preferred method of treatment for this disorder. Besides private talk therapy, your doctor may suggest group, couples, or family therapy. This will provide you with the much needed support of others in your recovery. You will also learn valuable coping skills.

Sometimes medications may also be used to help with feelings of sadness or worry. Treatment may be short-term or long-term. This often depends on if the stress factor is a one-time event or ongoing. Even if you start to feel better, do not stop taking any prescribed medications on your own. First talk it over with your doctor.

Recovery

The outlook for those with adjustment disorders is good. A positive attitude and the support of family and friends will go a long way. Do not be afraid to reach out to others for help. Call your doctor or have someone make the call for you. You do not need to face this alone. If you feel like you may harm yourself or others, get help right away. Call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.

By Kevin Rizzo
Source: "Adjustment Disorders," Mayo Clinic, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/adjustment-disorders/symptoms-causes/syc-20355224 and www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/adjustment-disorders/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20355230; "Adjustment Disorder" by Rachna Lal, M.D. and Dean F. Mackinnon, M.D., John Hopkins Medicine, www.hopkinsguides.com/hopkins/view/Johns_Hopkins_Psychiatry_Guide/787068/all/Adjustment_Disorder
Reviewed by Sherrie Sharp, M.D., F.A.P.A., Vice President, Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

Summary

  • An overreaction to a stressful event or events
  • Goes well beyond the point of normal grieving or concern
  • Outlook for those with an adjustment disorder is good

We live in stressful times. There is no avoiding it. We usually can deal with the minor stresses in life. We easily bounce back from things like traffic jams or getting caught in the rain. Major stresses, like losing a job, having a child, or getting a divorce are harder. Sometimes they may seem like they are too much to handle. If you find you are not able to move on from stressful events, you could have an adjustment disorder.

Signs and symptoms

Adjustment disorders affect your thoughts, feelings, and actions. They are the result of a stressful event or lifestyle and can lead to worry and despair. As the name suggests, people with this disorder have trouble “readjusting.” They feel more stress than should be expected and for a longer period of time. Sometimes this feeling goes away once the cause of the stress is removed. In other cases, it may last up to three to six months or even longer. This buildup of stress can lead to a number of challenges.

A person with an adjustment disorder may experience any of the following:

  • Withdrawal
  • Sadness
  • Worry
  • Nervousness
  • Hopelessness
  • Lack of sleep or hunger
  • Trouble staying focused
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Thoughts of suicide

Diagnosis

Adjustment disorders are often overlooked. Doctors are more likely to look at more well-known ailments first. Sometimes it is confused with post-traumatic stress disorder, for instance. It can also look like other depressive or anxiety disorders. The right diagnosis may be made after first ruling out other mental or physical issues.

The key is that this illness is an overreaction to a stressful event or events. Adjustment disorders go well beyond the point of normal grieving or concern. They continue to cause trouble dealing with daily duties at work, home, or school. A thorough mental health exam is needed for proper diagnosis.

Treatment

Talk therapy is the preferred method of treatment for this disorder. Besides private talk therapy, your doctor may suggest group, couples, or family therapy. This will provide you with the much needed support of others in your recovery. You will also learn valuable coping skills.

Sometimes medications may also be used to help with feelings of sadness or worry. Treatment may be short-term or long-term. This often depends on if the stress factor is a one-time event or ongoing. Even if you start to feel better, do not stop taking any prescribed medications on your own. First talk it over with your doctor.

Recovery

The outlook for those with adjustment disorders is good. A positive attitude and the support of family and friends will go a long way. Do not be afraid to reach out to others for help. Call your doctor or have someone make the call for you. You do not need to face this alone. If you feel like you may harm yourself or others, get help right away. Call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.

By Kevin Rizzo
Source: "Adjustment Disorders," Mayo Clinic, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/adjustment-disorders/symptoms-causes/syc-20355224 and www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/adjustment-disorders/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20355230; "Adjustment Disorder" by Rachna Lal, M.D. and Dean F. Mackinnon, M.D., John Hopkins Medicine, www.hopkinsguides.com/hopkins/view/Johns_Hopkins_Psychiatry_Guide/787068/all/Adjustment_Disorder
Reviewed by Sherrie Sharp, M.D., F.A.P.A., Vice President, Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, assessments, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, health care, psychiatric, psychological, or behavioral health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2019 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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