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Adjustment Disorder: What is the adjustment disorder, definition, signs, symptoms of adjustment disorder.Adjustment Disorder: What is adjustment disorder? Definition, signs, symptoms adjustment disorder.

An adjustment disorder is characterized by the development of emotional or behavioral symptoms in response to an identifiable stressor occurring within 3 months of the onset of the stressor. (A stressor is anything that causes a great deal of stress in a person's life.)

Symptoms of Adjustment Disorder:

Depressed mood, anxious, regularly acting out of the ordinary. May be experiencing sleep problems and sexual difficulties.

The symptoms would be significant if:

  • the noted distress is in excess of what would normally be expected from exposure to the stressor; or

  • there's significant impairment in social or job functioning; and

  • the stress-related disturbance is not the result of another clinical disorder or a result of Mental Retardation or Personality Disorder and the person is not experiencing bereavement.

Adjustment disorders are often diagnosed when it's not clear the person meets the criteria for a more severe disorder, or the actual diagnosis is uncertain (Adjustment Disorder DSM-5 Criteria). This diagnosis often gives the therapist time to further evaluate the client during additional therapy sessions.

Adjustment disorders are further categorized by the specific symptoms experienced:


For comprehensive information on anxiety disorders and depression, visit the Anxiety Disorders Community and the Depression Community.

Source: American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.


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