Adjustment disorders are stress-related conditions. You experience more stress than would normally be expected in response to a stressful or unexpected event, and the stress causes significant problems in your relationships, at work or at school.
Work problems, going away to school, an illness, death of a close family member or any number of life changes can cause stress. Most of the time, people adjust to such changes within a few months. But if you have an adjustment disorder, you continue to have emotional or behavioral reactions that can contribute to feeling anxious or depressed.
You don’t have to tough it out on your own, though. Treatment can be brief and it’s likely to help you regain your emotional footing.
Signs and symptoms depend on the type of adjustment disorder and can vary from person to person. You experience more stress than would normally be expected in response to a stressful event, and the stress causes significant problems in your life.
Adjustment disorders affect how you feel and think about yourself and the world and may also affect your actions or behavior. Some examples include:
• Feeling sad, hopeless or not enjoying things you used to enjoy
• Frequent crying
• Worrying or feeling anxious, nervous, jittery or stressed out
• Trouble sleeping
• Lack of appetite
• Difficulty concentrating
• Feeling overwhelmed
• Difficulty functioning in daily activities
• Withdrawing from social supports
• Avoiding important things such as going to work or paying bills
• Suicidal thoughts or behavior
Symptoms of an adjustment disorder start within three months of a stressful event and last no longer than 6 months after the end of the stressful event. However, persistent or chronic adjustment disorders can continue for more than 6 months, especially if the stressor is ongoing, such as unemployment.
If adjustment disorders do not resolve, they can eventually lead to more serious mental health problems such as anxiety disorders, depression or substance abuse.