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Are you having trouble coping to a new change or situation?

What is Adjustment Disorder?

Do you have a hard time coping with a stress in your life? For example, the death of a loved one or divorce. Adjustment Disorder is a type of short-term condition when an individual is having a hard time coping or adjusting to a source of stress. It is believed that individuals with such disorder tend to have similar symptoms to those who may have clinical depression however, unlike clinical depression, individuals with Adjustment Disorder don’t experience as much physical and emotional symptoms. Also, symptoms usually begin within three months of the source or stress, but do not last longer than 6 months after the situation or event.

It is important to note that Adjustment Disorder can develop at any age regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, or lifestyle. However, it is more prevalent when major transitions occur such as adolescence, mid-life, and/or late-life (i.e. elderly).

What are the symptoms of Adjustment Disorder?

  • Feeling of hopelessness & sadness
  • Worry
  • Frequent crying
  • Headaches or stomachaches
  • Feeling tired or without energy
  • There is an increase on alcohol & drug consumption
  • Experience problems with sleeping
  • Avoid people & social activities
  • Anxiety
  • There is a change in appetite
  • Muscles twitching or trembling
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Indigestion
  • Body pain or soreness

What triggers/causes such disorder?

  • Death of a loved one
  • General life changes (i.e. a job, city, neighborhood, or changes in school)
  • Divorce or any problems within a relationship
  • Illness that may involve either yourself or a loved one
  • Unexpected catastrophes (i.e. earthquake, tornado, tsunami)
  • Family or school problem
  • Sexuality issues (more common among teenagers and young adults)

How is Adjustment Disorder treated?

  • Psychotherapy (most common way of treatment)
    • Interpersonal therapy
    • Crisis intervention
    • Cognitive Behavioral therapy
    • Family & Group Therapies
  • Support groups
    • It can be helpful to talk about ones’ problems with others who are experiencing the same stress
  • Medication (some cases)
    • May help control anxiety symptoms and sleeping problems

How can Adjustment Disorder be prevented?

There is not one known cause that may help with the prevention of Adjustment Disorder however, strong social and family support may play a big part in the way you may handle the stressor. Also, establishing a good self-esteem, looking for the positive humor during tough times, and living a healthy life can contribute to the prevention of the disorder.

How do I help myself cope with such disorder?

  • Avoid stress
    • If you are aware that you’re are moving for example, don’t take up additional responsibilities that you know it may be not realistic for you to complete
  • Start a healthy habit
    • Mediate
    • Exercise
    • Journal your thoughts
    • Force yourself to think positive
  • Utilize your social support
    • Talk to your family and friends even if it is just to vent
  • Go beyond your circle
    • Join a support group
    • Seek counseling/therapy