Adjustment Disorder Treatment
Treatment for adjustment disorder exists, which means that as disruptive as adjustment disorder may be, it’s temporary. Adjustment disorders can negatively impact all areas of a person’s life and functioning, but with treatment, they can disappear.
Adjustment disorder treatment addresses both the stressor(s) that led to the disorder as well as the resulting adjustment disorder symptoms. With treatment, people have control to take charge of their lives and their mental health.
Adjustment Disorder Treatment: Therapy
Therapeutic treatment for adjustment disorder addresses the stressor(s) people experience and helps people define goals and enhance coping skills. Adjustment disorder therapy is usually brief and time-limited. It’s not unusual for therapy to last only four- to six sessions, but there are individual differences in both therapists and clients that determine the exact number of therapy visits.
Adjustment disorder therapy takes many forms. Among them:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy; an approach that helps people reframe problems and outlook by learning to identify automatic negative thoughts and replace them with more realistic ones
- Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT); a mindfulness and coping therapy that helps people accept difficulties and reactions, choose meaningful direction, and then take action to achieve goals
- Solution-focused brief therapy; an approach that helps people identify where they want to be and how they are going to get there
Regardless of the approach, therapeutic adjustment disorder treatment focuses on crisis relief, stress reduction, goal setting, strengths building, and coping skills creation. Therapists help clients gather relevant information and identify and use resources.
Adjustment Disorder Treatment: Coping Skills
Coping skills are thoughts people have and actions they take in order to achieve mental health and wellness. They play a key role in adjustment disorder treatment.
The more coping skills people develop and use, the better equipped they are to deal with the stressors and symptoms of adjustment disorder. While this list is by no means exhaustive, it contains proven techniques that many people have found helpful in adjustment disorder treatment.
- Self-exploration; through journaling and recording gratitude, look for patterns to discover what makes meaning for you and enhances your wellbeing
- Make room for the positive by changing the part of the stressors you can and creating wellness around what you can’t
- Mindfulness; be in the present moment rather than ruminating about the stressor
- Reframe your thoughts about the problem
- Increase physical activity
- Create calming strategies
- Change things in your environment (rearrange to-do lists, ask for help with things like housework, shopping, little tasks around a new baby, etc.)
- Develop a routine to reestablish a sense of normalcy
- Draw on or build a social support system
- Enhance sleep habits; treating your sleep helps increase ability to cope and function
- For more ideas, read You Can Practice Self-Care on a Budget
Adjustment Disorder Treatment: Medication
Mental health medication isn’t always a part of adjustment disorder treatment because the disorder is stress-induced. However, adjustment disorder can occur with depression and/or anxiety. When it does, temporarily taking medication can be helpful. Sometimes, too, sleep medication can help people get the restorative sleep that is needed to handle difficulties.
It’s important to keep track of symptoms and discuss them with your regular doctor or nurse-practitioner. He or she can help decide whether medication would be useful in treating symptoms of adjustment disorder.
Treating Adjustment Disorder is Possible
It might not always feel like it, but people are strong and capable. Everyone has strengths to draw on as they transcend difficulties, including adjustment disorder. Receiving support from a therapist, doctor, friend, or family member can enhance adjustment disorder treatment. With therapy, coping skills, and occasionally medication, people can fully overcome the stressors and symptoms of adjustment disorder and live a life in which they thrive.
Last Updated: 30 August 2016
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD