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Adjustment Disorder: What Is It and What Are the Signs?

Adjustment Disorder: What Is It and What Are the Signs?

Adjustment disorders affect how a person feels and thinks about themselves and the world. They also impact the person’s behavior or actions. Adjustment disorder is an umbrella term for conditions caused by stress or trauma. Many individuals suffer from adjustment disorder as a result of a sudden change in their lives. It’s important to be educated on the various adjustment disorder types and symptoms to spread awareness and be there for someone who’s diagnosed.

What Is Adjustment Disorder?

An adjustment disorder is an emotional or behavioral reaction to a stressful event or a major change in a person’s life. These disorders are considered to be unhealthy and even excessive reactions to an event or change within three months of it happening. Although adjustment disorders can occur in adults, they are most commonly diagnosed in children and adolescents.

Stressful events and changes in your life or the life of a loved one can lead to adjustment disorder. Common adjustment disorder causes include:

  • A family move
  • Parents’ divorce or separation
  • Loss of a pet
  • Loss of a loved one
  • Birth of a sibling
  • Sudden illness or chronic illness

Most of the time, people adjust to these new changes. But people with adjustment disorders may continue to experience emotional or behavioral reactions that can contribute to conditions like depression and anxiety.

Types of Adjustment Disorders

The following includes adjustment disorder types and their symptoms:

  • Adjustment disorder with depressed mood: People with this type of adjustment disorder diagnosis tend to experience feelings of sadness and hopelessness as well as frequent crying that are more so than would be expected after a stressful event. They may also struggle to enjoy activities that they formerly enjoyed.
  • Adjustment disorder with anxiety: Symptoms associated with adjustment disorder and anxiety include feeling overwhelmed, nervous, worried, and jittery, and fear of separation from major attachment figures, such as a parent or toy.
  • Adjustment disorder with mixed disturbance of emotions and conduct: People with this type of adjustment disorder experience both emotional symptoms like depression and anxiety as well as a disturbance of conduct. This may include behavioral problems like violating others’ rights and violating societal norms and rules (destruction of property, reckless driving, or fighting).
  • Adjustment disorder with disturbance of conduct: People with this type of adjustment disorder may display behavioral problems ranging from reckless driving to fighting without the emotional symptoms associated with a disturbance of emotions.
  • Adjustment disorder unspecified: This category refers to signs of adjustment disorder that don’t fit in one of the above subtypes mentioned. Reactions of people with this unspecified adjustment disorder include social withdrawal or inhibited ability to complete expected tasks at school or work.

Adjustment Disorder Signs and Symptoms

As shown in the DSM-5, adjustment disorder symptoms vary depending on the subtype the person has and simply from person to person.1 The most common sign that someone has an adjustment disorder is that they experience more stress than would normally be expected in response to a stressful event. This stress will also impact the person’s life significantly.

With that said, adjustment disorders impact the way a person feels and behaves. Some common adjustment disorder symptoms and signs include:

  • Feeling sad, hopeless, or not enjoying things you used to enjoy
  • Frequent crying
  • Nervousness, jitteriness
  • Feeling stressed out often
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Lack of appetite and weight loss
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Trouble functioning in daily activities at school, work, or home
  • Social withdrawal
  • Avoiding responsibilities like going to work or paying bills
  • Suicidal thoughts or behavior

Signs of adjustment disorder usually begin within three months of a stressful event and rarely last longer than 6 months after it ends. However, persistent or chronic adjustment disorder can continue longer than 6 months, especially if the stressor is ongoing, such as unemployment or chronic illness. The good news is that professional mental health treatment can help prevent the worsening of an adjustment disorder and help the individual recover quicker from their symptoms.

How Our Florida Mental Health Rehab Can Help

If you or a loved one is showing signs of adjustment disorder, don’t wait until things get worse to reach out for help. Our Boca behavioral health facility offers disorder-specific programs, such as depression and anxiety treatment, to aid in our patients’ long-term recovery.

With the daily guidance of our therapists and counselors, clients can learn how to manage their symptoms in a healthy manner and create a sustainable and enjoyable lifestyle.


For more information about our Boca Raton depression treatment or other mental health services, call Banyan Treatment Centers today at 888-280-4763.



  1. NCBI - Impact of the DSM-IV to DSM-5 Changes on the National Survey on Drug Use and Health [Internet].


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Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.