by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Adjustment disorder is an emotional or behavioral response to a stressful event, such as a divorce or natural disaster. These symptoms are more severe than they should be. This can make it hard to return to normal day-to-day life.
Adjustment disorder is caused by stress or changes in a person's life. Genes and past stressful events may also play a role.
Things that may raise the risk of this problem are:
Any stressful event can lead to an adjustment disorder. Some examples are:
Adjustment disorder starts within 3 months of the event. It can last up to 6 months or more after the stress is gone. Problems can vary but may be:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. You may also be asked about any major changes or problems in daily life. A physical exam may be done. This is often enough to make the diagnosis.
Treatment can help to ease the impact of the stress. This may lower the effect on day to day life. Choices are:
There are no guidelines to prevent this health problem.
American Psychiatric Association
National Institute of Mental Health
Canadian Mental Health Association
Canadian Psychiatric Association
Adjustment disorder. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/adjustment-disorder. Accessed November 18, 2020.
Adjustment disorder. Johns Hopkins Psychiatry Guide. Available at: https://www.hopkinsguides.com/hopkins/view/Johns_Hopkins_Psychiatry_Guide/787068/all/Adjustment_Disorder. Accessed November 18, 2020.
Adjustment disorders. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/psychiatric-disorders/anxiety-and-stressor-related-disorders/adjustment-disorders. Accessed November 18, 2020.
Bachem R, Casey P. Adjustment disorder: A diagnosis whose time has come. J Affect Disord. 2018 Feb;227:243-253.
Sundquist J, Ohlsson H, et al. Common adult psychiatric disorders in Swedish primary care where most mental health patients are treated. BMC Psychiatry. 2017;17(1):235.
Last reviewed September 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrian Preda, MD
Last Updated: 4/21/2021
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