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  • What
  • Types
  • Causes
  • Risk of Developing
  • Symptoms
  • Diagnosed
  • Treated
  • Prevent

What is Adjustment Disorder ?

Adjustment disorder is an unpredictably strong emotional or behavioural reaction which takes place during stressful event or life changing event takes place within duration of 3 months.

Types of Adjustment Disorder

Adjust disorder can be acute (duration is less than 6 months) or chronic (duration is greater than 6 months). The 6 subtypes are:

  • Adjustment disorder with anxiety
  • Adjustment disorder with mood depression
  • Adjustment disorder with mixed anxiety and mood depression
  • Adjustment disorder with behaviour disturbance
  • Adjustment disorder with mixed emotions and behaviour disturbance
  • Unspecified adjustment disorder (problematic behaviour and thoughts which are categorised within the other adjustment disorder subtypes.

What Causes Adjustment Disorder?

Generally a person develops adjustment disorder when that person becomes a victim of a major change in life or events which are stressful. The events or changes which may develop adjustment disorder for the victim includes:

  • Relationship problems
  • Marital problems
  • Family conflicts
  • Divorce
  • Health problems
  • Sexual issues
  • Unexpected tragedy
  • Death of nearest ones
  • Work changes
  • Financial issues
  • School changes
  • Moving
  • General life changes
  • Major life changes
  • Frequent stressful life events

Who is at the Risk of Developing Adjustment Disorder?

Adjustment disorder is generally considered to be a common condition as there are limited researches on how often adjustment disorder takes place. Children as well as adults of both sexes experience adjustment disorder likewise, unfortunately there is no means to determine who will be a victim of adjustment disorder with response to a stressor. However there are few factors which increases a person’s change of developing adjustment disorder and those risk factors includes:

  • Age (children or teenagers may not be able to deal with stressors as adults)
  • Lack of emotional development
  • Lack of flexibility for changes in life
  • Lack of coping up skills
  • Lack of social skills
  • Lack of support systems
  • Past experience
  • Other mental health problems
  • Genetic factors
  • Intelligence

What are the Symptoms of Adjustment Disorder?

According to the subcategories of adjustment disorder, the symptoms may vary. When a person becomes a victim of adjustment disorder, symptoms which maybe experienced are:

  • Anxiety
  • Unnecessarily worrying
  • Lack of concentration
  • Sleeping difficulties
  • Feeling besieged
  • Gloominess
  • Depression
  • Inapt behaviour
  • Avoiding and ignoring family and friends
  • Suicide thoughts
  • Suicidal behaviour
  • Vacillating or twitch
  • Heart tremor
  • Physical complaints

How is Adjustment Disorder Diagnosed?

Therapist will ask the victim suffering from adjustment disorder few questions to understand if the victim meets the criterion for adjustment disorder. Victim should meet all or major criterions if the victim needs to be diagnosed by the adjustment disorder:

  • Victim should develop the symptoms within 3 months of the stressor
  • The symptoms shown by the victim should be severe that usually expected when exposed to stressor and thus causing agony, social impairment or occupational impairment
  • The symptoms should not be the reason for any other disorder
  • The symptoms should be because of any normal grieving and sorrow experience after the death of a loved one

How is Adjustment Disorder Treated?

The focus of the complete treatment for adjustment disorder is to free from the symptoms and to help the victim to develop skills to deal for the future.

Psychotherapeutic Counselling

Psychotherapeutic counselling will help the victim to recognise your stressors; learn to deal with issues and to get the necessary support. Different types of psychotherapeutic counselling include:

  • Cognitive behavioural therapy
  • Personal therapy
  • Stress management therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Group therapy


Consultant psychologist may prescribe medication which will guide the victim to revive from the symptoms when the victim undergoes psychotherapeutic counselling. However medications are rarely used as a sole ingredient for adjustment disorder treatment, as the medication only provides temporarily revive you from the symptoms. On the other hand, psychotherapeutic therapy assures prolonged or permanent relief for the victim from the symptoms of adjustment disorder.


Adults shows better response to the treatment for adjustment disorder, sadly its not same with children or teenagers, as they normally do not respond well to the treatment as may develop major psychiatric illnesses.

How to Prevent Adjustment Disorder?

Unfortunately there are no guaranteed ways to prevent adjustment disorder. However, you can reduce the risk to a great extent when you do the following:

  • Seek complete support from family as well as friends
  • Talk to a consultant psychologist, when undergoing stress
  • Develop flexible attitude towards life
  • Create a positive attitude
  • Healthy lifestyle with good diet and exercise