Adjustment Disorders

1 What are Adjustment Disorders?

Adjustment disorder or stress response syndrome is a condition characterized by intense and excessive emotional and behavioral responses to stress in life.

People with this disorder find it hard to cope or adjust with a source of stress. The psychological and physical symptoms of this disorder may affect the daily activities of a person.

There are different types of adjustment disorders, and each one of them is associated with characteristic signs and symptoms.

Treatment methods aim to improve the symptoms and to help the person get back to their normal routine as soon as possible.

Medications and therapy are the most common treatment methods for alleviating the symptoms.

2 Symptoms

Symptoms of Adjustment disorders appear within three months of a stressful event. The type of symptoms vary from person to person.

Some of the emotional and psychological symptoms are:

  • Impulsive behavior
  • Feeling sad or hopeless
  • Lack of concentration
  • Feelings of desperation
  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Self destructive thoughts
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of self esteem

Certain physical symptoms are also associated with adjustment disorders. These include:

Behavioral changes noticed during stressful periods are:

  • Poor performance at school or work
  • Reckless driving
  • Remaining aloof
  • Frequent crying
  • Fighting
  • Vandalism

Acute symptoms are short-term and usually resolve once the stressor is removed. Chronic symptoms persists for more than six months.

There are six types of adjustment disorders:

Adjustment disorder with depressed mood – characterized by sadness, hopelessness, and lack of pleasure in doing anything.

Adjustment disorder with anxiety – characterized by anxiety, feeling overwhelmed, and lack of concentration.

Adjustment disorder with mixed anxiety and depressed mood – characterized by combined symptoms of adjustment disorder with depressed mood and anxiety

Adjustment disorder with disturbance of conduct – characterized by behavioral problems like reckless driving and fighting

Adjustment disorder with mixed disturbance of emotions and conduct – Characterized by symptoms of depressed mood, anxiety, and disturbance of conduct

Adjustment disorder unspecified – other characteristics that are not mentioned in any of the above types.

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3 Causes

Stressful events are the main cause of adjustment disorder. The exact mode of action in triggering adjustment disorder is not clear.

Some common causes of stress are:

  • Death or illness of a family member or friend
  • Issues in a romantic relationship
  • Sudden and major changes in life
  • Health problems
  • Coping with new surroundings
  • Sudden disasters
  • Fear
  • Money issues

In children, family issues, problems at school, and anxiety may initiate adjustment disorder.

People of any age group and gender may develop this condition.

4 Making a Diagnosis

A person is diagnosed with having adjustment disorder if he/she has two or more of the following symptoms:

  • Having more stress than others in response to a stressor
  • Response to a stressor causing issues in relationship
  • Symptoms appearing within three months of exposure to a stressor
  • Improvement of symptoms when the stressor is removed
  • Symptoms that are not due to any other condition

5 Treatment

Therapy, medications, or a combination of both are the main treatment method for controlling adjustment disorder.

Therapy includes:

  • Psychological therapy such as counseling or talk therapy
  • Psychological care
  • Family therapy
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Interpersonal psychotherapy

Medications are used to reduce certain symptoms of this condition including insomnia, anxiety, and depression.

Benzodiazepines, nonbenzodiazepine anxiolytic, and SSRI are the most commonly used medications.

6 Prevention

Taking good care of the emotional well-being of the individual is the best way to prevent adjustment disorder.

7 Alternative and Homeopathic Remedies

Amber, coff, sumb, and zinc are the examples of alternative and homeopathic remedies for the treatment of adjustment disorder.

Mirror therapy favors acceptance of self and to improves self-image.

Activating therapy improves personal power.

8 Lifestyle and Coping

Caring for the emotional well-being of an individual is the best way to cope with adjustment disorders.

Eating a healthy diet, following a sleeping routine, engaging in hobbies, and regular physical activity are important in controlling the symptoms.

9 Risks and Complications

Long-term psychological issues are the most common complication associated with adjustment disorder.

People may develop depression, drug addiction, alcohol addiction and suicidal thoughts.

Teenagers with adjustment disorder may develop schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and antisocial personality disorder.

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