The term adjustment disorder refers to inability of an individual to cope or adjust to a certain stressor. Due to the fact that people with adjustment disorder experience that are common in people with depression the disorder is also known as situational depression.
The difference between adjustment disorder and a major depression is given by the fact that is caused by an external factor and it resolves when the affected person adapts to the situation. It is also similar to anxiety disorder but it lacks an external stressor. The post-traumatic stress disorder shares some similarities but it involves a more intense and stronger stressor.
Therefore the adjustment disorder might include anxiety symptoms, depressive symptoms, post-traumatic stress disorder or a combination. In the DSM III R there were presented 9 types of adjustment disorders and in DSM IV TR there were six types.
The most common symptoms of adjustment disorder are anxiety, disturbance of conduct and depressed mood.
If it lasts more than 6 weeks the adjustment disorder is chronic or else it is acute. Adjustment disorder is not a rare condition; actually it might be pretty common as 5 to 21% of psychiatric patients are diagnosed with form of adjustment disorder. But it seems it’s more common among women than men. When it comes to children, boys and girls are equally affected by the adjustment disorder.
The most common signs and symptoms of adjustment disorder are anxiety, sadness, worry, hopelessness, crying, trouble sleeping, lack of enjoyment, thoughts of suicide, nervousness, difficulty concentrating and feeling overwhelmed.
Sometimes people with Adjustment disorder might display a dangerous behavior that might include skipping school, fighting, reckless driving, avoiding friends and/or family, poor performances in school.
Suicidal behavior is very common among people with adjustment disorder and about one in five people with adjustment disorder fall victims to suicide. But most of the time people the methods chosen for suicide include the ones with highest chance of being saved.
The risk factors that are most often associated with adjustment disorder might include younger age, more psychosocial problems, increased suicidal behavior, shorter treatment and more environmental problems.
At a great risk are also people exposed often to trauma. Children might also be affected by a stressor that could trigger adjustment disorder.
A stressor might be a serious event that might affect an individual or a group of people. Sometimes the stressor is a grossly traumatic event like the loos of a girlfriend or a boyfriend or the death of someone dear. Sometimes it might be something relatively minor such as a new neighborhood or the loss of a card.
If a stressor is not recurrent it’s very unlikely to produce a disorder. The nature of the stressor is very important. In order to give an accurate diagnosis a doctor must identify a stressor first.
The most common types of stressors met in adults are financial conflict and marital conflict. In childhood and adolescence the adjustment disorder is more likely to be caused by parental separation, illness in the family, sexuality issues, school problems or death in the family.
The psychotherapy is the recommended treatment for the adjustment disorder.