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Adjustment Disorder with Disturbance of Conduct

Adjustment disorder with disturbance of conduct is a type of stress disorder. Read detailed information on this adjustment disorder on HealthyPlace.com.

Adjustment disorder with disturbance of conduct is one of six types of adjustment disorders identified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), the accepted authority on mental disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association. According to the DSM-5, all adjustment disorders are caused by an identifiable stressor(s) of any severity. Further, a diagnosis of an adjustment disorder means that the person is experiencing significant symptoms that negatively affect many areas of life. In adjustment disorder with disturbance of conduct, the stressors cause disruptive behaviors that get in the way of someone’s home life, work/school life, and/or relationships.

Symptoms of Adjustment Disorder with Disturbance of Conduct

All adjustment disorders result from stressors that cause specific types of reactions in the person living with the stressors. An adjustment disorder is categorized according the type of reaction it causes. The symptoms of adjustment disorder with disturbance of conduct can include:

  • Behaviors that are outside the norms of society
  • Actions that violate the rights of others
  • Outbursts of anger
  • Attempts at revenge
  • Substance use or abuse
  • Emotionality/mood swings that are acted upon

Adjustment disorder with disturbance of conduct can feed on itself when the behaviors contribute to further problems in relationships and society. The disturbances of conduct caused by the stressor(s) can feel frightening and overwhelming, and they can intensify feelings of anger.

As with adjustment disorder with depressed mood, adjustment disorder with anxiety, and adjustment disorder with mixed anxiety and depressed moods, adjustment disorder with disturbance of conduct is time-limited; once the stressor(s) are removed or the person begins to adjust and cope, the symptoms of disturbance of conduct subside within six months. Adjustment disorders disrupt one’s life, but they are temporary.

Difference between Adjustment Disorder with Disturbance of Conduct and other Mental Disorders

It can be difficult to diagnose adjustment disorders because symptoms reflect other disorders. The key to differentiating adjustment disorders from these other mental disorders is the presence of a distinct stressor that precipitates the development of the symptoms. If the stressor leads to behavior problems, for example, then adjustment disorder with disturbance of conduct is diagnosed. If conduct disturbances are present before stressor(s) are experienced, then the diagnosis is a different disorder.

Often, adjustment disorder with disturbance of conduct overlaps with symptoms of various personality disorders. Mental health professionals look at someone’s history, the presence or absence of stressors, and how emotions and behaviors changed in reaction to a stressor. When disruptive behavior symptoms developed after the onset of stressor(s), it’s likely that someone is experiencing adjustment disorder with disturbance of conduct.

Adjustment Disorder with Disturbance of Conduct is Temporary and Treatable

If you’ve experienced one or more stressors and now are having symptoms related to behavior, chances are strong that what you’re dealing with is adjustment disorder with disturbance of conduct. A visit to a doctor or mental health professional will help determine this.

Adjustment disorder with disturbance of conduct can get in the way of the life one wants to live. That, though, is temporary. There is treatment for adjustment disorder that involves addressing the stressor(s) as well as developing coping strategies and skills to overcome the difficulties and achieve mental health and wellbeing. Typically, adjustment disorder with disturbance of condact diminishes within six months, and one can once again live life free from the disruptive symptoms.

article references

APA Reference
Peterson, T. (2016, February 12). Adjustment Disorder with Disturbance of Conduct, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, June 19 from https://www.healthyplace.com/ptsd-and-stress-disorders/adjustment-disorder/adjustment-disorder-with-disturbance-of-conduct

Last Updated: June 6, 2019

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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