Understanding What Is Adjustment Disorder

Adjustment disorder is a behavioral and emotional disorder that arises due to a person’s inability to adjust to a sudden life stress or traumatic experience. While it is normal to react differently toward traumatic events, if you find yourself experiencing a severe and overwhelming reaction in response to any life event, chances are you might be going through adjustment disorder. 

The emotional side of adjustment disorder can have several behavioral indicators like low self-esteem, sadness, hopelessness, and sometimes, even self-harming behavior. An acute form of adjustment disorder occurs within three months of the trigger event and does not last for more than six months. The triggering events are generally not as severe and big as perceived by the concerned person. 

Let us dive deeper into what is adjustment disorder, its symptoms, and available treatment options.

What Is Adjustment Disorder

What Is Adjustment Disorder?

Stressful life events are a part of our everyday lives. Problems at work, school, or home can be a common occurrence in our day-to-day lives. Now, everyone has different reactions to these events. In fact, most people learn to cope with these triggers and changes over time. 

However, if you are suffering from an adjustment disorder, your reactions to these stressful events are much more severe than others and frequently last for months. 


Adjustment disorders can have several emotional and behavioral symptoms. Common symptoms of the disorder include:

  • feelings of hopelessness and helplessness,
  • social isolation or pulling away from friends and family,
  • disrupted sleep patterns,
  • frequent anxious thoughts,
  • physical symptoms of stress, including headaches, racing heartbeat, etc.,
  • frequent emotional outbursts and crying,
  • acting impulsively,
  • difficulty in managing day-to-day activities,
  • excessive worrying, and
  • body aches not associated with any type of illness. 


There are no pre-defined causes of an adjustment disorder. Any form of stressful life event or change can trigger a person’s adjustment disorder. However, these events and incidents might not affect everyone in the same way. Vulnerability to these triggers rests majorly on a person’s personality and life experiences. 

The common causes or triggers that can lead to an adjustment disorder in adults include:

  • death of a loved one, 
  • relationship conflicts,
  • career change, 
  • job loss, or
  • illness in one’s own self or close family member. 

Adjustment disorders can also affect adolescents and teens. The common triggers include:

  • poor performance in academics,
  • relationship issues, 
  • bullying,
  • change in friendships or peer groups, or
  • parental divorce.

Read more: Teenagers And Their Mental Health-Related Issues

Treatment Options

Fortunately, with the help of proper professional help, a person dealing with an adjustment disorder can successfully recover from their condition. Common treatment options for adjustment disorders include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy: It focuses on breaking negative thought patterns and establishing a connection between positive thoughts and behaviors.
  • Stress-management therapy: This form of treatment works to help a person cope with the symptoms by building resistance.
  • Group therapy: In this form of therapy, people with similar issues and needs work together to build practical solutions and support each other. 

Read more: Best Online Therapy Platforms.


Adjustment disorder is a form of emotional and behavioral disorder associated with triggering or traumatic life events. The condition can affect adults and children alike. With proper professional help, a person can effectively recover from an adjustment disorder. While there is no proven way to prevent an adjustment disorder, working on your coping skills and building resilience can help you deal with adverse situations better. 

Being mentally and emotionally drained can harm your mental health in more ways than one. That is why it is important to work on your mental and emotional health. To learn how to fix your emotional health, click here

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