What Are the Symptoms of Adjustment Disorder?


Adjustment disorder is characterized by the development of emotional and behavioral symptoms occurring after a stressful life event.  Life events that may cause this can include things like the death of a loved one, relationship issues, or being fired from a job.

Everyone goes through these stressful life events, but it’s when these events take a large toll on a person’s life causing them to develop psychological and physical symptoms.      

In order for symptoms and behaviors to be clinically significant, one or both of the following criteria must be met: marked distress that is out of proportion to the severity or intensity of the stressor, or significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

After the stressor has ended, the symptoms cannot persist longer than six months. Furthermore, they must be out of proportion to the person’s culture and cannot represent normal bereavement. A disturbance must also not be associated with another mental disorder like depression or anxiety.

There are a total of 6 adjustment disorders which include:

  • Adjustment disorder with depressed mood
  • Adjustment disorder with anxiety
  • Adjustment disorder with mixed anxiety and depressed mood
  • Adjustment disorder with disturbance of conduct
  • Adjustment disorder with mixed disturbance of emotions and conduct
  • Adjustment disorder unspecified

With Depressed Mood

People diagnosed with this type of adjustment disorder commonly experience symptoms of sadness pr hopelessness. Individuals may find themselves crying, feeling down, or not enjoying certain things as much as they used to it. 

With Anxiety

Adjustment disorder with anxiety can include symptoms of feeling overwhelmed, excessive worrying or being generally anxious. individuals may also have trouble staying focused or have trouble remembering things.

There is a difference between adjustment order with anxiety in adults and children where children tend to experience separation anxiety with parents or loved ones.

With Mixed Anxiety and Depressed Mood 

Individuals with mixed anxiety and depressed moods experience both depression and anxiety. 

With Disturbance of Conduct

This type of adjustment disorder is characterized by a number of behavioral issues like driving recklessly or starting fights. 

Teenagers with this disorder might be seen stealing, vandalizing property, or skipping school.

With Mixed Disturbance of Emotions and Conduct

This disorder is a combination of both disturbances of emotions and conduct that include anxiety, depression, and behavioral problems. 

Adjustment Disorder Unspecified 

People who have adjustment disorder that is not specified have symptoms that are not associated with anything specific from the other adjustment disorders. It can include physical symptoms or problems with relationships, school, or work. 

Symptoms of Adjustment Disorder

Signs and symptoms of adjustment disorder usually occur during or immediately after you experience a stressful event and only occur for about 6 months. While some people experience only experience one symptom others might experience many. 

Some mental symptoms include: 

  • Rebellious or impulsive actions
  • Anxiousness 
  • Depressive symptoms – sadness, emptiness, hopelessness
  • Lack of concentration 
  • Low self-esteem 
  • Suicidal tendencies and thoughts 

The mixed adjust disorder includes a person experiencing both physical symptoms and psychological ones which include:

  • Insomnia 
  • Muscle twitches or trembling 
  • Fatigue 
  • Body pain or soreness 
  • indigestion

What Are the Causes?

As previously mentioned, the causes of adjustment disorder can include life events like:

  • Divorce
  • Sudden disaster 
  • Moving to a new location (house, city, country, etc.)
  • Financial troubles 
  • Illness or health issue
  • Death in the family or friends

For children, this might look a little different and might not be as severe.  Children and adolescents are prone to the following causes:

  • Family fights or troubles 
  • Problems in school 
  • Stresses over sexuality 

Adjustment Disorder Treatment

If you or a loved one is diagnosed with adjustment disorder they may benefit from therapy or another type of treatment.  

Psychotherapy is a primary treatment for many mental health disorders.  Going to therapy can help you work on negative emotions and feelings you might have. 

This can include therapies such as CBT therapy, EMDR therapy, or systematic desensitization

Medication can also be another option to treat you or a loved one’s adjustment disorder. Prescription medication can be used to lessen symptoms like insomnia, depression, or anxiety. 

Get Help with SoCal Sunrise

Southern California Sunrise Recovery Center is a residential mental health treatment center in Orange County helping clients on the first step of recovery.  We are here to help individuals struggling with mental health conditions. 

If you or a loved one is suffering from a mental health condition, don’t hesitate to contact us today. Our treatment specialists are prepared to do everything we can to help you.  Call today to find out more. 

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