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Adjustment Disorder: Treatment

Reviewed Nov 7, 2013


  • Therapy
  • Medication
  • Resources

A person with an adjustment disorder may consider several treatment options. Mental health professionals can help make the appropriate choice.


Psychotherapy can be very helpful in alleviating ongoing symptoms of an adjustment disorder if it becomes disabling. People with adjustment disorder often participate in traditional individual counseling or "supportive" psychotherapy.

People enduring stressful circumstances such as divorce, a heart attack, HIV/AIDS or diabetes, for example, may benefit from group therapy with others experiencing similar difficulties. Professional or peer-facilitated groups can address the implications of specific issues.

After natural disasters or other large-scale traumatic events, area agencies may provide services for the people most affected.

It is very uncommon for people with adjustment disorder to be hospitalized. If they are hospitalized, it is often for another condition. The adjustment disorder may occur in response to that illness or injury.


People with adjustment disorders generally are not prescribed medication. However, if the person experiences severe symptoms, he may be given either anti-anxiety or antidepressant medications. In those cases, medications are typically used in addition to other forms of treatment.

Regardless of the type of treatment, the primary goals are to relieve symptoms and assist the person with the disorder in achieving a level of adaptation comparable to functioning before the stressful event.


American Psychological Association  
(800) 374-2721
American Psychiatric Association
(888) 357-7924
Mental Health America
(703) 684-7722
Toll free: (800) 969-6642
TTY line: (800) 433-5959
National Institute of Mental Health

Adjustment Disorders (State of Mental Illness and Its Therapy) by Sherry Bonnice, Mason Crest Publishers, 2013.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Second Edition: Basics and Beyond by Judith S. Beck and Aaron T. Beck. The Guilford Press, 2011.

Drug Therapy and Adjustment Disorders by Sherry Bonnice. Mason Crest Publishers, 2007.

Stress Response Syndromes: PTSD, Grief, Adjustment, and Dissociative Disorders by Mardi Jon Horowitz. Jason Aronson Inc., 2011.

The Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Sourcebook: A Guide to Healing, Recovery, and Growth, second edition, by Glenn Schiraldi. McGraw-Hill, 2009.

The Time Cure: Overcoming PTSD with the New Psychology of Time Perspective Therapy by Philip Zimbardo, Richard Sword and Rosemary Sword. Jossey-Bass, 2012.

Treatment of Complex Trauma: A Sequenced, Relationship-Based Approach by Christine A. Courtois, Julian D. Ford and John Briere. The Guilford Press, 2012.

By Chris E. Stout, PsyD, MBA

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