Understanding the signs, symptoms, and effects of adjustment disorders is an important part of the effort to get help for yourself or your loved one. At Rio Vista Behavioral Health in El Paso, Texas, we’re proud to be a source of information and comprehensive care for adolescents and adults who have been struggling with adjustment disorders.
Understanding Adjustment Disorders
Learn about adjustment disorders
Adjustment disorders are forms of mental illness that occur in the aftermath of certain stressful experiences.
The effects of adjustment disorders are far more severe than the typical temporary struggles that most people may experience after one or more significant life events. For example, if you have an adjustment disorder, you may feel a level of distress that is considerably disproportionate to the stressor. Also, symptoms of adjustment disorders may impair your ability to function appropriately in school, at work, in social situations, or in other important contexts.
Examples of stressors that may precede the onset of adjustment disorder include the end of a relationship, the loss of a job, suffering a financial setback, retiring, or developing a serious illness. Symptoms of adjustment disorders may appear following a single stressful event or after you have experienced multiple stressors.
It is important to realize that the types of stressful situations that can trigger the onset of adjustment disorders are not limited to events that are typically thought of as “bad.” For example, relocating due to a job promotion, getting married, and becoming a parent are all examples of experiences that can cause a person to develop symptoms of an adjustment disorder.
Regardless of what type of event or experience prompted you to develop an adjustment disorder, it is important to know that these are treatable conditions. When you get appropriate professional care, you can learn to manage the symptoms of adjustment disorders. With the right help, you can experience relief from the psychological pain of adjustment disorders and achieve a much higher quality of life.
Statistics about adjustment disorder
The following statistics about adjustment disorders are included in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5):
- About 50% of people who are hospitalized for psychiatric care experience symptoms that are consistent with a diagnosis of an adjustment disorder.
- As many as 20% of people who seek outpatient mental health services are struggling with adjustment disorders.
Causes & Risk Factors
Causes and risk factors for adjustment disorder
The one common factor among all people who struggle with adjustment disorders is that they experienced at least one stressor prior to the onset of symptoms. However, not everyone who encounters stressors will develop adjustment disorders. The following are among the factors that can raise your risk for developing an adjustment disorder:
- Personal history of disadvantaged life circumstances
- Experiencing a high rate of stressors
- Persistent stress, such as living in an area that experiences high crime rates
- Prior struggles with other types of mental illness
Signs & Symptoms
Symptoms of adjustment disorders
People who develop adjustment disorders may experience a variety of distressing symptoms and may demonstrate a wide range of signs. The following are among the more common signs and symptoms of adjustment disorders:
- Frequent crying for no apparent reason
- Acting in a nervous, jumpy, or jittery manner
- Lack of attention to personal hygiene and other basic forms of self-care
- Easily disturbed or distracted
- Neglecting responsibilities at work or in school
- Failing to pay bills or meet other essential personal responsibilities
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Diminished participation in hobbies or other significant activities
- No appetite
- Sleep problems
- Problems with concentration and focus
- Pervasive sense of fear, worry, or dread
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Thoughts of suicide
Effects of adjustment disorders
Untreated adjustment disorders can have a drastic negative impact on the lives of people who don’t get effective professional help. The following are examples of the possible effects of untreated adjustment disorders:
- Strained or ruined relationships with family, friends, and colleagues
- Academic setbacks, including failure and expulsion
- Substandard performance at work, which can result in job loss and chronic unemployment
- Financial problems
- Onset or worsening of other mental health challenges
- Physical health setbacks due to decreased compliance with medical guidance
- Inability to maintain an independent lifestyle
- Social withdrawal and isolation
- Suicidal thoughts
It is important to understand that adjustment disorders are treatable conditions. When you seek proper professional care, you can avoid the effects listed above and begin to heal from past harm. With the right type and level of care, you can learn to manage the symptoms of adjustment disorders, regain control of your thoughts, and resume your pursuit of a more satisfying future
Common co-occurring disorders among people who have adjustment disorder
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) reports that adjustment disorders can accompany most types of mental illness, as well as various other medical concerns. People who develop adjustment disorders may also face issues such as the following:
- Bipolar disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Substance abuse and addiction