Adjustment Disorder



What is Adjustment Disorder?

An adjustment disorder is an emotional or behavioral reaction to a stressful event or change in a person’s life. The reaction is considered an unhealthy or excessive response to the event or change within three months of it happening. Stressful events or changes in the life of your child or adolescent may be a family move, the parents’ divorce or separation, the loss of a pet, or the birth of a sibling. A sudden illness or restriction to your child’s life due to chronic illness may also result in an adjustment response.

How common is Adjustment Disorder?

Adjustment disorders are predominantly diagnosed in children and adolescents, but they can also affect adults. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.


What are the symptoms of Adjustment Disorder?

Symptoms of adjustment disorders vary depending on how the disorder manifests. Common symptoms of Adjustment Disorder are:

  • Depressed mood
  • Impaired occupational/social functioning
  • Agitation
  • Trembling or twitching
  • Physical complaints (e.g. general aches and pains, stomachache, headache, chest pain)
  • Palpitations
  • Conduct disturbances (e.g. truancy, vandalism, reckless driving or fighting)
  • Withdrawal
  • Anxiety, worry, stress and tension

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.


What causes Adjustment Disorder?

Adjustment disorders are a reaction to an event. There is not a single direct cause between the stressful event and the reaction. Children and adolescents vary in their temperament, past experiences, vulnerability and coping skills. Where they are in their development and ability to deal with specific needs related to the stress may contribute to their reaction. Stressors also vary in how long they last, how strong they are and what effect they have. No evidence is available to suggest a specific factor that causes adjustment disorders.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for Adjustment Disorder?

Adjustment disorders are quite common in children and adolescents. They happen equally in males and females. While adjustment disorders happen in all cultures, the stressors and signs may vary based on cultural influences.

Adjustment disorders can also happen at any age. However, it is believed that characteristics of the disorder are different in children and adolescents than they are in adults.

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is Adjustment Disorder diagnosed?

A child and adolescent psychiatrist or a qualified mental health professional usually makes the diagnosis of an adjustment disorder following a comprehensive psychiatric evaluation and interview with the child or adolescent and their parents. A detailed personal history of development, life events, emotions, behaviors and the identified stressful event is obtained during the interview.

How is Adjustment Disorder treated?

Specific treatment for adjustment disorders will be decided by your adolescent’s health care provider based on:

  • Your adolescent’s age, overall health and medical history
  • Extent of your adolescent’s symptoms
  • Subtype of the adjustment disorder
  • Your adolescent’s tolerance for specific therapies
  • Expectations for the course of the stressful event
  • Your opinion or preference

Treatment may include:

  • Individual psychotherapy using cognitive-behavioral approaches. Cognitive-behavioral approaches are used to improve age-appropriate problem-solving skills, communication skills, impulse control, anger management skills and stress management skills.
  • Family therapy. Family therapy is often focused on making needed changes within the family system, like improving communication skills and family interactions. An additional area of focus is to increase family support among family members.
  • Peer group therapy. Peer group therapy is often focused on developing and using social skills and interpersonal skills.
  • Medicines have very limited value in the treatment of adjustment disorders

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage Adjustment Disorder?

Most people recover from adjustment disorder without any remaining symptoms if they have no previous history of mental illness and have access to stable social support. Individuals suffering from adjustment disorder should work to develop and maintain a healthy diet and sleep patterns, as well as a strong social support system.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Review Date: November 9, 2018 | Last Modified: November 9, 2018

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