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 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
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. 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:
- Adjustment disorder with depressed mood
- Adjustment disorder with anxiety
- Adjustment disorder with mixed anxiety and depressed mood
- Adjustment disorder with disturbance of conduct
- Adjustment disorder with mixed disturbance of emotions and conduct
- Adjustment disorder, Unspecified
Source: American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.
Last Updated: 21 April 2017
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD