Adjustment Disorders

What is an Adjustment Disorder?

     Losing a job,  going through a divorce, moving to a new area, being diagnosed with an illness, leaving for college, and getting married are just a few of the significant life changes that can cause stress. Most of the time people adjust to such changes within a few months. Sometimes, however, individuals have difficulty coping and may continue to feel anxious, depressed, hopeless, or even self-destructive.  If you have experienced a stressful life change and are having difficulty adjusting, you may be suffering from an adjustment disorder.

      An adjustment disorder is defined as a stress related mental disorder characterized by the development of significant emotional or behavioral symptoms in response to an identifiable stressor.  If you have an adjustment disorder, you may experience overwhelming feelings of anxiety or sadness that may cause you to withdraw or make reckless decisions.  You may struggle to carry out daily routines or activities, such as going to work or spending time with family and friends.  In sum, you are having a hard time coping with a stressful life event and your distress is interfering with the peaceful and productive life you would like to lead.

Emotional and Behavioral Symptoms

     Emotional and behavioral symptoms of adjustment disorders can vary greatly from person to person. However, symptoms must occur within three months of the stressful life change or event. Emotional symptoms can affect how you think and feel about yourself and your life and may include sadness, anxiety, hopelessness, crying spells, feeling overwhelmed, thoughts of suicide, nervousness, difficulty sleeping, trouble concentrating, or loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed. Behavioral symptoms can affect how you act or behave and may include poor work or school performance, skipping school, fighting, vandalism, avoiding friends or family, reckless driving, drug and alcohol abuse, or ignoring responsibilities such as paying bills.

Treatment and Recovery

      If you have experienced a stressful life event and continue to have difficulty coping, know that there is hope for recovery. You need not suffer or tough it out on your own.  At Southlake, an expertly trained therapist can work with you to customize a treatment plan to help you regain your emotional footing.  Your therapist will guide you as you learn to cope effectively with the stressful events that life inevitably brings and help empower you to live a better adjusted, peaceful, and personally rewarding life.