Adjustment Disorder as the name suggests occurs due to an identifiable life-changing event such as loss of job, changing school, or divorce. Stressors may or may not be extreme events. In some cases, they may be traumatic, such as the sudden loss of a parent. In other cases, events could be relatively minor and seemingly trivial. Someone that experiences Adjustment Disorder may have a warped perception of reality and so when even a trivial problem arises, they might perceive it as a major threat. In such cases, we experience heightened stress levels and display much more intense reactions which cause impairment to social, cognitive, and day-to-day functioning.
The causes of Adjustment Disorder can vary and are largely dependent on one's perception of the event and how it is managed.
Common Causes of AD
- Death of a loved one
- Divorce or problems with a relationship
- Being diagnosed with an illness
- Moving away from home
- Losing a job
- Assault/ Accidents
Signs and Symptoms
Symptoms of Adjustment Disorder can appear similar to Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). However, unlike MDD, Adjustment Disorder usually has an identifiable event, and symptoms tend to be less severe.
- Loss of Interest in Hobbies
- Feeling Sad and Frequent Crying
- Constant Feeling of Worrying/Nervousness/Stress
- Sleeping Difficulties
- Poor Appetite
- Alcohol Abuse
- Difficulties Concentrating
- Withdrawal from Friends and Family
- Headaches and Heart Palpitations
- Suicide Attempt or Suicidal Ideations
Signs, symptoms, duration, and severity of adjustment disorder are different, due to individual differences such as gender, age, childhood experiences, and environment, etc.
Common Forms of Treatment
Psychotherapy can help individuals identify stressors and relief symptoms in their lives. A therapist can also provide emotional support, while teaching individuals to manage their response to stressors and introducing problem-solving strategies and coping methods.
Certain classes of medication can help alleviate the symptoms of Adjustment Disorder, such as anxiety and insomnia.
Tips for Coping with Adjustment Disorder
Apart from seeing a mental health professional, here are some tips that could help you with if you find yourself facing a stressful life event.
✽ Reducing Expected Stress
When we go through life-changing events like moving house or the loss of a loved one, there is a certain amount of predictable stress we would expect and it would be helpful to delegate responsibilities to others to reduce stress.
For instance, moving house often requires multiple different activities, such as packing, the arranging of movers, and so on. We can protect our mental health by delegating the jobs to others so as not to put to much of the burden on ourselves.
✽ Joining A Support Group
It can feel comforting to know others who have been or are going through similar problems. It is a safe place to share your worries and anxieties.
Support groups are particularly effective for individuals who experience stress from bullying, trauma, and pregnancy, etc.
✽ Lean On Your Support System
Having a close friend or family whom you trust to listen without judgement. During tough time periods, having someone to listen to your troubles can help you feel more relieved.
✽ Healthy Coping Methods
To keep a healthy mind, we should maintain a healthy body. Try to avoid engaging in drugs or alcohol to cope with stress, as using these substances can be maladaptive and lead to more harm than good. Activities such as exercise, reading and spending time with friends and family can be good for stress relief.