What are Adjustment Disorders?

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adjustment disorders are found in approximately 10% of adults and 32% of adolescents. They are generally self-limiting, not lasting more than 6 months in duration. Adults generally have a course that is more limited and less severe than adolescents, and require less treatment.

The adjustment disorder is defined as a maladaptive response to a normal, psychosocial stressor that has occurred in the past three months, and is not caused by another mental illness. This means that it must last longer than a normal persons response to the stressor and cause impairment in social, academic, or work functioning. It cannot be caused by grief due to bereavement (death of a loved one).

They present with generalized symptoms such a disruption of mood or conduct, with depression and anxiety being the most common mood disruption. In adults, depression is most common, while in children conduct and behavioral problems are the most commonly seen. suicidal thoughts may also be seen with this disorder.

There is controversy as to whether to treat adjustment disorder at all, since they are so self-limiting. When therapy is indicated, it generally is brief, time-limited, and very focused on the problems linked directly to the stressor.

Derek Wood is a Nationally Board Certified Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse, and holds a Master's degree in Psychology. His experience in the online arena of mental health can be traced back to 1997, when he was a host for Online Psych on AOL. He joined Get Mental Help, Inc. as Clinical Content Director for Mental Health Matters. Derek, with his wife Lisa, developed the original version of psychTracker (then called A Mood Journal), after his diagnosis with Schizo-Affective Bipolar, when they could not find a system available that was robust enough to help him effectively manage his symptoms and accurately interpret his charting. Derek has worked in the field of mental health since 2001, as a Unit Manager of an adult long-term treatment facility, a charge nurse in an adolescent short-term inpatient facility and long-term residential facility, and as a School Psychologist. He has also written several articles which are being used as CEU for nurses and educators.


  1. Elisabeth Renee Gingerich

    April 17, 2016 at 6:29 pm

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    • Sean Bennick

      April 17, 2016 at 7:02 pm

      I’m sorry you have had to deal with this troll, but this is an actual disorder faced by many people. Ridiculing it makes you no better than the troll that pointed you at our site.

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