Adjustment disorders arise when there is a maladaptive reaction to an identifiable stressor, i.e. some major change in the life of the individual. Examples of stressors include: loss of a loved one, divorce, moving, major health diagnosis, loss of employment, etc. Symptoms are in excess of what would be considered expected or normal given the stressor. Although children often experience Adjustment Disorders, problems with adjustment can occur at any age. Symptoms can negatively impact functioning in a variety of areas – social life, academia, or occupational functioning.
Adjustment problems can cause a variety of symptoms, such as:
Depressive symptoms – An adjustment disorder with depression associated with a specific event may be present if one feels sad, numb, or is unable to enjoy pleasurable activities as they once did. Sleep patterns and appetite can change. Energy level or motivation can be affected. Social withdrawal is not uncommon.
Anxiety symptoms – An adjustment disorder with anxiety associated with a specific event may be present if one feels overly nervous, anxious, or scared. Feeling keyed-up or tense is often noted. An increase in worry or anxiety may interfere with sleep. Concentration can be affected. At times, situational panic attacks can be reported.
Conduct or behavioral changes – At times adjustment disorders can manifest in significant changes in behavior. Individuals with no history of maladaptive behaviors can begin showing problems in this area. Often the behavioral issues are noted by others to be uncharacteristic of the individual.
Through use of reality and cognitive-behavioral based therapies, PC&A psychologists can help reduce the mood and behavioral changes that occur and affect your quality of life. We will assist you in acquiring the skills necessary to cope with the stressor and its effects. Appropriate and early intervention with adjustment disorders greatly improves prognosis.