Adjustment Disorders (Encyclopedia of Medicine)
An adjustment disorder is a debilitating reaction, usually lasting less than six months, to a stressful event or situation. It is not the same thing as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which usually occurs in reaction to a life-threatening event and can be longer lasting.
An adjustment disorder usually begins within three months of a stressful event, and ends within six months after the stressor stops. There are many different subtypes of adjustment disorders, including adjustment disorder with:
- mixed anxiety and depression
- conduct disturbances
- mixed disturbance of emotions and conduct
Adjustment disorders are very common and can affect anyone, regardless of gender, age, race, or lifestyle. By definition, an adjustment disorder is short-lived, unless a person is faced with a chronic recurring crisis (such as a child who is repeatedly abused). In such cases, the adjustment disorder may last more than six months.
Causes and symptoms
An adjustment disorder occurs when a person can't cope with a stressful event and develops emotional or...
(The entire section is 689 words.)
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Adjustment disorder (Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders)
An adjustment disorder is a type of mental disorder resulting from maladaptive, or unhealthy, responses to stressful or psychologically distressing life events. This low level of adaptation then leads to the development of emotional or behavioral symptoms.
Often, a person experiences a stressful event as one that changes his or her world in some fundamental way. An adjustment disorder represents significant difficulty in adjusting to the new reality.
The stressful events that precipitate an adjustment disorder vary widely. They may include the loss of a job; the end of a romantic relationship; a life transition such as a career change or retirement; or a serious accident or sickness. Some are acute "one-time" stressors, such as relocating to a new area, while others are chronic, such as caring for a child with mental retardation.
Psychiatrists have disagreed about the validity of the diagnosis of adjustment disorder, largely because of its lack of specificity. What qualifies as a stressful event, and what is an abnormal response to it? While adjustment disorders are more difficult to quantify than other mental disorders, many researchers consider the category a useful one...
(The entire section is 2408 words.)
Adjustment Disorders (Encyclopedia of Psychology)
The development of significant emotional or behavioral symptoms in response to an identifiable event that precipitated significant psychological or social stress.
Adjustment disorders are maladpative, or unhealthy, responses to stressful or psychologically distressing life events, such as the end of a romantic relationship or being terminated from a job.
The American Psychiatric Association has identified and categorized several varieties of adjustment disorders, depending on accompanying symptoms and their duration. These subtypes include adjustment disorder with depressed mood, with anxiety, with anxiety and depressed mood, and with disturbances of conduct. The disorders can additionally be classified as acute or chronic. It is thought that adjustment disorders are fairly common; recent figures estimate that 5 to 20 percent of persons seeking outpatient psychological treatment suffer from one of these disorders. Psychiatrists rigidly define the time frames in which these disorders can occur to differentiate them from other types of responses to stressful events, such as post-traumatic stress disorder and acute stress disorder. Adjustment disorders must occur within three months of the stressful event and can, by definition, last no longer than six months.
Symptoms of these various...
(The entire section is 455 words.)
Adjustment Disorders (Encyclopedia of Children's Health)
Adjustment disorder is an umbrella term for several mental states characterized by noticeable behavioral and/or emotional symptoms. In order to be classified as an adjustment disorder, these symptoms must be shown to be a response to an identifiable stressor that has occurred within the past three months.
The American Psychiatric Association (APA), in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), states that the behavioral and/or emotional signs observed must appear excessive for the stressor involved or have significant impact on the child's social and school functioning. The cause of the stress may be a single event affecting only the child, such as starting daycare or school, or an event that involves the entire family, such as a divorce. Multiple simultaneous stressors are also possible, such as starting daycare and having an abusive caretaker at the daycare or a divorce complicated by parental substance abuse. Chronic medical conditions of the child or parents, such as childhood leukemia or cancer, can also be a cause of stress.
Adjustment disorder, in some ways, is a hopeful diagnosis. Many mental health professionals consider it one of the less severe...
(The entire section is 1807 words.)