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    Adjustment disorders

    • Overview


      Excessive reactions to stress that involve negative thoughts, strong emotions and changes in behaviour are known as adjustment disorders. People with this disorder experience a more intense response to stressful changes or events than expected, which can cause difficulties getting along with others at work or school.

      Various life changes such as work problems, going away to school, or illness can cause stress, which most people get used to within a few months. However, if someone has an adjustment disorder, they continue to have emotional or behavioural responses that can lead to increased feelings of anxiety or depression.

      Thankfully, treatment options are available to help individuals with adjustment disorders regain their emotional well-being.

    • Symptoms


      The symptoms of adjustment disorder may differ depending on the type. They can be different from one person to another. You may feel more stress than expected after a challenging event, leading to various difficulties in your life.

      Adjustment disorders can affect your emotions and thoughts about yourself and your world. They may also have an impact on your actions or behaviour.

      Some examples include:
      Feeling sad, hopeless or not enjoying things you used to enjoy.
      Crying often.
      Worrying, or feeling anxious, nervous, jittery or stressed out.
      Feeling irritable or like you can’t handle anything and don’t know where to start.
      Having trouble sleeping.
      Not eating enough.
      Having difficulty concentrating.
      Need help with daily activities.
      Withdrawing from family and friends who support you socially.
      Refrain from doing important things, such as going to work or paying bills.
      Thinking about suicide or acting on those thoughts.

      The symptoms of an adjustment disorder typically arise within three months of experiencing a stressful event. These symptoms usually subside within six months after the event has ended. However, if the stressful situation persists, as in the case of ongoing unemployment, the symptoms of adjustment disorder may continue beyond six months.

    • When to see a doctor


      Dealing with stressors is a temporary experience that can be overcome over time. Usually, symptoms of adjustment disorder improve when the stressor subsides. However, it’s possible to encounter a stressful situation that persists in your life or a new one that causes emotional turmoil once again.

      If you’re struggling with daily life or struggling, it’s best to seek help from a mental health professional or doctor. Getting treatment can help you manage stress and regain a positive outlook on life. Or if you’re worried about your child’s behavior, discussing it with their doctor is recommended.

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    • Causes


      Adjustment disorders occur due to significant changes or stressful situations in your life. Your genetics, life experiences, and temperament may increase the likelihood of developing an adjustment disorder.

    • Risk factors


      Stressful life events and experiences ― positive and negative ― may put you at risk of having an adjustment disorder. Examples include:
      Significant stress as a child, such as bullying or difficulties with school.
      Divorce or marriage problems.
      Relationship problems or trouble getting along with others.
      Major life changes include retirement, having a baby or moving away.
      Bad experiences include losing a job, a loved one, or money problems.
      Problems in school or at work.
      Life-threatening experiences, such as physical assault, combat or natural disaster.
      Ongoing stressors include having a medical illness or living in a neighbourhood with a lot of crime.
      More than one significant change or lousy experience is happening simultaneously.
      Other mental health conditions include major depression, intense anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder.

    • Prevention


      While there are no foolproof methods to avoid adjustment disorders altogether, having a strong social support system, healthy coping mechanisms, and the ability to bounce back quickly from tough times can prove beneficial during high-stress periods.

      If you anticipate a stressful event on the horizon, like a move or retirement, it’s wise to prepare ahead of time. Boost your healthy habits and reach out to loved ones for assistance in advance. Remember that stressful situations are temporary, and you have the resilience to overcome them. Additionally, consider consulting with your healthcare provider or mental health expert for guidance on healthy stress management techniques.

    • *Please note that the information provided in the article is for reference purposes only. It is essential to consult a doctor before applying any of the suggestions mentioned.

    Content Details

    Medical info from Mayo Clinic, for reference only. Visit Hoan My for better advice.

    Last updated on: 07/08/2023