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Adjustment Disorder | What You Need to Know

Adjustment Disorder | What You Need to Know


If your child feels anxious about attending a new school or welcoming the new baby sister or brother, don’t worry just yet. This can be considered a common reaction.

If your teenage daughter/son is exhibiting some behavioral changes, there may be no reason to be excessively anxious. Many teenagers tend to react in unpredictable ways as they go through the multiple challenges during this developmental milestone.

If you or an older adult in the family feels challenged because of work, an ailment, a loss, etc., it is important to keep things in perspective. Changes and transitions are an expected part of life, just as reacting or adjusting to the change can be natural.

However, if the responses are overly excessive, it’s important not to dismiss them. These could be symptoms of an adjustment disorder. Your ability to adjust to the changes in your or their life because of an adjustment disorder is a vital step toward a happy, well-functioning household.


What are adjustment disorders? What do you need to know about them?


The Condition Behind the Struggle

It is a typical reaction to feel distressed after an unhappy or painful event. When your reaction, however, “is more severe than would be expected and can result in significant impairment in social, occupational, or academic functioning,” take heed, because you could be suffering from an adjustment disorder.

According to Healthline, “Adjustment disorders are a group of conditions that can occur when you have difficulty coping with a stressful life event.” Dubbed as “stress response syndrome,” the condition can be triggered by a stressful event, such as the passing away of a loved one, divorce, a tragic accident, being fired from a job, or the diagnosis of medical condition.

It “is a short-term condition,” says Web MD. In fact, one of the criteria for its diagnosis is the appearance of symptoms within three months after the onset of the stressor. Typically, it does not last longer than six months after the stressor has ended or you have successfully adjusted to the change despite the initial difficulty.


Recognizing the Symptoms: Are you a sufferer?

Adjustment disorders usually bring about emotional and physical symptoms that typically occur during or instantly after the occurrence of the trigger. Though, it can be a short-term condition, if untreated, it is possible for it to become more complicated, particularly when it is co-occurring with another emotional condition.

Healthline shares the following emotional and physical symptoms:  

Emotional Symptoms

  • acting rebellious or impulsive
  • acting anxious
  • feeling sad, hopeless, or trapped
  • crying
  • withdrawn attitude
  • lack of concentration
  • loss of self esteem
  • suicidal thoughts

Physical Symptoms

  • insomnia
  • muscle twitches or trembling
  • fatigue
  • body pain or soreness
  • indigestion


Types of Adjustment Disorder

It is common for a person with an emotional condition to have impaired functioning. It is similarly usual for their ability to adjust to be overwhelmed. It is, therefore, not surprising that the six types of adjustment disorders are associated with the different symptoms of emotional conditions. According to Healthline, the six types of adjustment disorders are:


  1. Adjustment disorder with depressed mood – A person weighed down by this type of adjustment disorder manifests depressive symptoms, such as unhappiness, hopelessness, and anhedonia or the inability to find interest and pleasure in people or things that they used to love or passionate about. It is also linked to social withdrawal and a lot of crying.


  1. Adjustment disorder with anxiety – People suffering from this type of adjustment disorder can exhibit intense, pervasive and unfounded fears or worries. They may also have problems with memory and focus. Children may refuse to go to school, and become confused easily, or they may express unjustified rage or anger.


  1. Adjustment disorder with mixed anxiety and depressed mood – A person diagnosed with this type of adjustment disorder is likely to exhibit both anxiety and depressive symptoms.


  1. Adjustment disorder with disturbance of conduct – A person with this type can exhibit irresponsible behaviors that can endanger their or other people’s lives and/or health, such as extreme defiance, aggressiveness, or driving recklessly. Adolescents with this disorder may skip school, engage in risky behavior, or associate with unhealthy influences.


  1. Adjustment disorder with mixed disturbance of emotions and conduct – This type of adjustment disorder can be manifested in symptoms that are associated with anxiety, depression and/or behavioral issues.


  1. Adjustment disorder unspecified – The symptoms associated with this type of condition often include social issues, relationship problems and physical symptoms.


The Risks and Complications to Avoid

It is true that adjustment disorder can be short-term, but only when the stressor is removed, or you have eventually adjusted to the circumstances. Since most types are associated with emotional issues – depression, anxiety, conduct disorder, or their combinations – it’s important not to underestimate their impact on your behaviors, health, life and future. They can last longer, just as the said conditions and their symptoms can persist beyond six months.

There are times we cannot avoid tragic and painful life events. Getting sick, losing someone dear, having problems at work, moving to a different school, or having relationship issues –  are life changes and transitions that can stress and overwhelm you; and they can happen to anyone. This means that you can be as vulnerable as others, but especially if depression or anxiety “runs in the family.”

Know that the severity of the symptoms varies, not only depending on the complicating emotional condition, but also on individual differences. There are subtypes of acute or chronic adjustment disorders that can bring about more intense symptoms. Like the complicating emotional conditions, the symptoms will not dissipate by hoping they go away or by snapping out of it. You can avoid the complications of the condition by getting it properly diagnosed and treated by a qualified professional.


Finding Meaning to Adjust Well

The assessment of the symptoms is important, just as the treatment of the adjustment disorder and whatever conditions are complicating it. Experts say that “The outlook for recovering from an adjustment disorder is good if you are treated quickly and correctly.” If recovering quickly is a goal, do not wait or “tough it out” on your own without help. Treatment can be rewarding and regaining your emotional foundation can be possible with the right help from a therapist independently contracted with Carolina Counseling Services in Cameron, NC – on Hwy 87, near Linden Oaks.

There is no sure way to avoid changes that may occur in your life – it is part of growing and maturing. Changes and challenges are inevitable. Remember that you have the opportunity to prepare for these changes and challenges and that counseling or therapy can help you resolve adjustment disorders.

Do not let the grip of a short-term adjustment disorder overwhelm you longer than it should. It may be the right time to address your overall health concerns, for a more fulfilling life and future. It is important to stay positive and hopeful. Despite the changes and challenges, you can discover the more positive aspects of your life. Before your ability to adjust becomes more overwhelmed, let an independently contracted, caring expert listen and help, so you can improve and bounce back. Call Carolina Counseling Services in Cameron, NC – on Hwy 87, near Linden Oaks today!

Serving Areas: Carolina Counseling Services – Cameron, NC

Counties: Harnett County

Areas: Cameron NC, Linden Oaks NC, Sprout Springs NC, Anderson Creek NC, Olivia NC, Pineview NC, Johnsonville NC, Spring Lake NC

Zip Codes: 28326, 28327, 27332, 28394

Rose Thomas, MA, LPC, LCAS, NCC

Specializes in: (Ages 5+) Children, Teens, Individuals, Couples and Families. Anxiety, Depression, ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder, ADHD, Relationship Issues, Marriage Counseling, Parenting, PTSD/Trauma Recovery, Acute Stress Disorder, Adult Sexual Abuse Survivors, Adjustment Disorders, Depressive Disorders, Persistent Depressive Disorder, Bipolar and Related Disorders, Self-injurious/Self-Harm, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Agoraphobia, Separation Anxiety, Disruptive Disorders, Conduct Disorder, Marital Conflict and Discord, LGBT, Substance Use Disorders
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Specializes in: (Ages 4+) Children, Individuals, families, PTSD, Trauma, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Adjustment Disorder, ADHD, Depression, Anxiety, communication skills, and Parenting Skills, Behavior Management, Life transitions, Family Conflict, Difficulty Coping, Relationship Problems, Depression, Anxiety

InsuranceBCBSTricare, Cash, HSA and FSA accepted and Apple Pay

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Shirlisa Daniels, MS, LPC, NCC

Specializes in: (Ages 4+) Children, Teens, Adults and Individuals, Families, Anxiety Disorders, Depression, Panic Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, ADHD, ODD, PTSD, Relationship Issues, Conflict Resolution and Life Transitions
Insurance: BCBS, Tricare, Cash (credit cards accepted)
 Credit Cards: Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express

Holly Ring, LMFT

Specializes in: (Ages 7+) Adolescents, College Students, Individuals, Couples, and Families, Anxiety, Depression, Trauma (child and adult, TFCBT certified), Relationship Issues, Coping Skills, Adjustment Disorders, Life Transitions, Suicidal Ideation, Self-esteem, OCD, ADHD, Behavioral Issues, Parenting Skills, LGBTQ
Insurance: BCBS, Tricare, Cash (credit cards accepted)
 Credit Cards: Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express

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