Adjustment Disorder Symptoms, Signs, Causes & Effects

The symptoms of adjustment disorder can take away your ability to enjoy life, and cause you to experience pain on many levels, but when you choose to come to Blue Ridge Mountain Recovery Center, you can begin to build a more promising future.

What is Adjustment Disorder

 Learn More About Adjustment Disorder

Adjustment disorder is a mental health condition that is defined by the development of behavioral and emotional disturbances that occur as a result of a significant stressor. The symptoms that tend to arise as part of this disorder are clinically significant and can include problems with occupational functioning, issues with social interaction, and/or problems in other parts of one’s everyday functioning. In addition, the symptoms that develop can show a clear level of upset within the individual that is not proportionate to the severity of the circumstance that has led to the reaction.

There are many occurrences that can lead to the development of adjustment disorder, and the pain that is suffered as a result will vary from person to person. In some instances, symptoms will develop soon after the stressor has occurred, while in other instances, they might not present themselves until months after the stressor has occurred. Thankfully, the symptoms of adjustment disorder often dissipate within six months, except in those cases where individuals are continuously exposed to ongoing stressors. Obtaining treatment to address the issues that develop is imperative to prevent the duration of symptoms and to offer individuals the relief they require from the pain they are suffering.


Statistics on Adjustment Disorder

Adjustment disorder is believed to be highly common in all age groups. According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), within inpatient hospital settings, it is often the most commonly diagnosed disorder, typically reaching as high as 50%.


Causes of Adjustment Disorder

The development of adjustment disorder can happen when someone suffers an environmental stressor, or more than one stressor, that causes him or her to respond with painful emotional or behavioral symptoms. Those who are subjected to poor life circumstances or who are constantly being exposed to stressful situations are at a greater risk for experiencing the symptoms of this disorder.

Risk Factors: Adjustment disorder can cause a number of different circumstances and might be the product of one identifiable stressor or many stressors. Some of the many events known to bring about the onset of symptoms of this specific disorder include, however are not limited to, the following:

  • Experiencing a natural disaster
  • Suffering from a chronic and/or painful illness
  • Becoming a parent
  • Failing to attain occupational goals
  • Retirement
  • Termination of a romantic relationship
  • Marital difficulties
  • Loss of a parent or other loved one
  • Leaving or reentering a parental home
  • Loss of a parent or other loved one
  • Living in a neighborhood that has a high rate of crime or violence
  • Business difficulties
  • Termination of a romantic relationship
  • Marital difficulties

Co-Occurring Disorders

Co-Occurring Disorders and the Complexity of Adjustment Disorder

Sadly, adjustment disorder is a mental health condition that can occur alongside other mental health disorders. Some of these co-occurring disorders can include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Specific phobia
  • Depressive disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Generalized anxiety disorder

Signs & Symptoms

Signs and Symptoms of Adjustment Disorder

The kinds of symptoms that are shown when someone is struggling with adjustment disorder will vary from individual to individual depending on many different, varying factors. These factors can include one’s age, the specific circumstances that surround the event that caused the onset of the disorder, and the network of support that is available to the individual. Some of these symptoms are listed below:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Onset of self-harming behaviors
  • Making attempts at suicide
  • Failure to attend work
  • Drop in performance at work
  • Aggressive outbursts
  • Tearfulness
  • No longer adhering to other daily responsibilities
  • No longer participating in activities that were once enjoyed

Physical symptoms:

  • Changes in eating patterns
  • Chest pains
  • Other bodily aches and pains
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Muscle tension
  • Persistent headaches

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Struggling to make good decisions
  • Experiencing difficulty concentrating
  • Suffering from an inability to use sound judgment and reasoning
  • Experiencing memory disturbances

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Feelings of nervousness
  • Excessive feelings of worry, concern, or dread
  • Emotional instability
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Depressed feelings
  • Anxious feelings


Effects of Adjustment Disorder

Because of the nature of adjustment disorder, the symptoms that impact those who suffer from this specific type of mental illness often do not last longer than six months after the event that triggered their onset occurred. However, in those situations where individuals are exposed to continued stressors, the symptoms may continue for longer periods of time.

Some of the many effects that can develop from the presence of adjustment disorder when treatment is not obtained can include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Suicidal behaviors
  • Persistent, unpredictable mood swings
  • Beginning to abuse drugs or alcohol
  • Decreased performance at work
  • Decline in social interactions
  • Disturbed interpersonal relationships
  • Onset of symptoms of other mental health disorders

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Marks of Quality Care
  • Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF)
  • National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP)
  • PsychArmor
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)