What makes a set of behaviors an adjustment disorder as opposed to simply normal problems in living?

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crmhaske eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There is some controversy surrounding the diagnosis of adjustment disorders because a necessary recovery period after a significant stressor in one's life is considered normal human behaviour.  Recovery can be slowed or impeded completely, however, if an individual engages in counterproductive behaviours in reaction to the stressor.  In cases like these treatment can be highly beneficial.  Therefore, the difference between normal problems and an adjustment disorder could be seen as the difference between managing life, and life being unmanageable.  Consequently, not every one who experiences an extremely stressful event in their life with develop an adjustment disorder, and so it is therefore important to treat each case individually.