Things that may increase the risk of adjustment disorder are:
- Current or history of other mental health problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder
- Problems within family or poor support system
- Major life changes and stress in childhood
Any stressful event can lead to an adjustment disorder. Some examples include:
- School challenges
- Loss of work or retirement
- Death of loved ones
- Major life change such as marriage, divorce, baby, or moving
- Being in the military or going to war
- Natural or other widespread disasters
Adjustment disorder starts within 3 months of the event. It can last up to 6 months or more after the stress is gone. There are different types of adjustment disorder. Symptoms can vary but may include:
- Feeling sad and hopeless
- Loss of motivation and self-esteem
- Hard time finding pleasure in things that used to enjoy
- Frequent crying
- Feel overwhelmed easily
- Excess worry
- Feel that nothing will work out well
- Bursts of anger
- Drug or alcohol misuse
- Fighting or seeking revenge
- Problems with relationships, school, or work
Treatment can help to ease the impact of the stress. This may lower the effect on day to day life.
Counseling includes talk therapy. The type of therapy will vary based on needs. It can include coaching about stress and learning habits that may help to address them. Therapy can also help to address problems in relationships. It may include one-on-one, couple, family, or group sessions.
Therapy may also work on the thought process around stress and coping skills. It may help to manage stressful events in the future.
Medicines may be used to ease some symptoms. It may only be used for a short period to help progress in therapy.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
Edits to original content made by Denver Health.
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American Psychiatric Association https://www.psychiatry.org
National Institute of Mental Health https://www.nimh.nih.gov
Canadian Mental Health Association https://cmha.ca
Canadian Psychiatric Association https://www.cpa-apc.org
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Adjustment disorders. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/psychiatric-disorders/anxiety-and-stressor-related-disorders/adjustment-disorders. Updated July 2018. Accessed August 30, 2018.