Adjustment Disorder

27/12/2013 by admin | Psychiatry


Defined as a state of emotional distress/reaction that interferes with social functioning, developing within 1 month of a significant life event.

Adjustment disorder usually follows on from Post-traumatic stress disorder.



Adults- financial/marital problems

Adolescents- school/family/sexual issues

Elderly- death of loved one, life changes


No way to predict which people are effected. A person’s susceptibility to stress can be influenced by: flexibility, intelligence, social skills, genetics, coping strategies.



The symptoms must interfere with social functioning:

  • Agitation
  • Depressed mood
  • Palpitations
  • Trembling or twitching
  • Physical complaints
  • Potential suicide thoughts or acts


  • Symptoms clearly follow a stressor
  • Symptoms are more severe than would be expected
  • There are no other underlying disorders
  • Symptoms are not part of normal grieving for the death of a loved one


Symptoms usually do not last longer than 6 months, unless the stressor continues to be present.



Main goal- relieve symptoms and return patient to similar level of functioning as before the event


  • Behavioural
  • Individual psychotherapy
  • Family therapy
  • Self-help groups



  • Anti-anxiety meds (benzodiazepines)
  • Antidepressants
  • Antipsychotics (rarely)
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