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Adjustment Disorder


Adjustment disorder is an abnormal and excessive reaction to a life stressor, such as starting school, getting divorced, or grief. The symptoms of adjustment disorder typically begin within three months of the identifiable stressor and usually do not last longer than six months. For a diagnosis of adjustment disorder to be made, the symptoms have to have clearly begun following a stressful event or situation and the symptoms must be more severe than would be expected given the particular stressor.

Adults often develop adjustment disorder related to marital or financial problems. In adolescents, common stressors include school problems, family conflict, or sexuality issues. Other stressors for people of any age include the death of a loved one, general life changes, or unexpected catastrophes.

There is no way to predict which people are likely to develop adjustment disorder, given the same stressor. People react in unique ways. Financial conditions, social support, and career and recreational opportunities can influence how well a person reacts to stress. Also, a given person's susceptibility to stress may be influenced by such factors as social skills, intelligence, flexibility, genetic factors, and coping strategies.

To receive a diagnosis of adjustment disorder, symptoms must be severe enough to affect a person's work or social life. Some of the symptoms that can occur include:



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