Adjustment disorders

Adjustment disorders are stress-related conditions in which an individual experiences more stress than would typically be expected in response to a stressful event.

Moving houses, problems at work, an illness, or death of a loved one can all cause overwhelming stress. Most times, people adjust to these changes in a few months. However, people with adjustment disorders continue to have behavioural or emotional reactions that can lead to feeling depressed or anxious.

Symptoms

Symptoms of an adjustment disorder develop within three months of a stressful event and last no longer than six months after a stressful event. However, chronic or persistent adjustment disorders can continue for more than six months, especially if the stress is ongoing.

Common symptoms include:

  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Feeling hopeless, sad, or not enjoying things you used to enjoy
  • Frequent crying
  • Feeling anxious, nervous, jittery, or stressed out.
  • Difficulty functioning in daily activities
  • Withdrawing from social events
  • Struggling to concentrate
  • Lack of appetite
  • Insomnia

Treatment

The primary goal is to relieve symptoms and to help an individual achieve a level of functioning comparable to what they had before the stressful event.

Recommended treatments include individual psychotherapy and cognitive behavioural therapy and self-help groups. During the start of therapy, Marésa will guide you through setting realistic short-term goals.

Marésa will also help you develop coping and problem-solving skills to help you deal with feelings of anxiety and stress.

Treatment will include helping you understand your role in the stressors, and reviewing and reinforcing any positive steps you can take to deal with the stressors. Teaching these coping mechanisms will help avoid future stressors, helping you put things into perspective. By better understanding your reaction to the stressors, you will start perceiving stressors as an opportunity for positive change or improvement.