Adjustment Disorder with Mixed Anxiety and Depressed Mood
Adjustment disorder with mixed anxiety and depressed mood is a common type of adjustment disorder, one of six official types of adjustment disorders categorized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association. This official volume, used by professionals to diagnose mental illness and other disorders, describes adjustment disorder with mixed anxiety and depressed mood as a stressor-induced disorder that creates personal distress through symptoms of both anxiety and depression (The Relationship Between Depression and Anxiety).
Symptoms of Adjustment Disorder with Mixed Anxiety and Depressed Mood
The DSM-5 discusses adjustment disorder with mixed anxiety and depressed mood as one of six types of adjustment disorders. In this adjustment disorder, someone experiences symptoms of both anxiety and depression. This is very individualized; while everyone with this type of adjustment disorder has symptoms of anxiety and depression, the way they appear in someone’s life differs from one person to another. Some people’s symptoms are more anxious, others’ are more depressed, and some people experience an equal amount of each type of symptom.
Reaction to a life change or another type of stressor can lead to a subjective, personal experience of mixed anxiety and depression (The Line Between Anxiety and Depression). The symptoms of adjustment disorder with mixed anxiety and depressed mood can include any combination of
- Excessive worry
- Low mood, sadness
- Increased tearfulness, frequent crying spells
- Sense of hopelessness
- Decreased self-esteem
- Anhedonia—loss of a sense of pleasure
- Lack of motivation
- Feeling of loneliness and isolation
- Suicidal ideation or behavior
The combined symptoms of depression and anxiety can feel crushing and overwhelming. This can make it even more difficult to deal with the stressor that caused these symptoms in the first place.
Distinguishing Adjustment Disorder with Mixed Anxiety and Depressed Moods from Anxiety and Depression
Because adjustment disorder symptoms are shared with symptoms of other mental health disorders, it can be challenging to determine an accurate diagnosis. In the case of adjustment disorder with depressed mood, a doctor or mental health professional will work with the person experiencing the symptoms to determine whether he/she is dealing with an anxiety disorder, depressive disorder, both, or adjustment disorder with mixed anxiety and depressed mood.
Perhaps the single most important factor in differentiating between adjustment disorders and other mental health disorders is the presence of one or more identifiable stressors in the person’s life. Adjustment disorder happens when someone is having difficulty coping with or adjusting to one or more life stressors of any severity. In the case of adjustment disorder with anxiety and depression, the stressors lead to both symptoms of anxiety and symptoms of depression. Without identifiable stressors that cause the symptoms, a diagnosis of something other than adjustment disorder is appropriate.
Adjustment Disorder with Mixed Anxiety and Depressed Mood is Temporary and Treatable
If you’ve experienced one or more stressors and now are feeling disruptive symptoms of both anxiety and depression, it’s possible that you’re dealing with adjustment disorder with mixed anxiety and depressed mood. A visit to a doctor or mental health professional will help determine this.
The wonderful news about adjustment disorders, including adjustment disorder with mixed anxiety and depressed mood, is that they can be overcome. Effective adjustment disorder treatment exists, and it involves addressing the stressor as well as treating the symptoms, in this case, the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Once the stressor is removed or the person has learned to adjust to and cope with it, the symptoms of adjustment disorder diminish within six months. Adjustment disorder with mixed anxiety and depressed mood isn’t something someone permanently lives with.
Last Updated: 24 October 2018
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD