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Conquering Adjustment Disorder | Facts to Know

Counseling for adjustment disorder

Conquering Adjustment Disorder | Facts to Know


Changes in the many aspects of life are constant from birth to the twilight years. With every change, transitions happen. These are to be expected, just as changes and challenges are natural consequences of the passing of time. These must not cause you to worry, yet many people do. Is worrying something you need to do something about? Or should you ignore it altogether?

Worrying is a natural reaction when you feel that the change can cause a disruption on certain aspects or overall quality of life.  If the response, though, is a bit too much – not going to the new school or isolating yourself from everyone and everything else because of a medical diagnosis or grief – do not brush off the response as nothing to pay attention to. If the excessive worrying is becoming an emotional burden, it will be productive to see a behavioral health professional. Why? You could be experiencing an adjustment disorder.                                                


What do you need to know about adjustment disorders?


Understanding Adjustment Disorders

Though changes are part of life, the following transition and adjustment phases may not always be easy. The emotional challenges for certain occurrences, such as the passing away of a loved one or the loss of an important source of income, can be so intense that the feeling of extreme pain can disrupt your life. Though you have the inborn ability to adjust to changes, it may not work as expected because it could be impaired by an “adjustment disorder.”

What is adjustment disorder? “Adjustment disorders are a group of conditions that can occur when you have difficulty coping with a stressful life event,” says the Healthline. It is an emotional condition that can be triggered by a traumatic or painful experience, event or experience. It is widely considered by experts as a short-term condition with the symptoms typically presented within three months after the event or experience. It is also common that the symptoms dissipate within six months.

Adjustment disorders can develop when the change is too overwhelming for you to accept. Emotional overwhelm can impair your inherent ability to adjust. While it can be a short-term condition, it can impact your life. How? The condition can drag on indefinitely, without treatment. The condition can push you to turn to unhealthy and risky behaviors or options to rid yourself of the unsettling feeling.  Adjustment disorders can contribute to the breakdown of relationships and result in your quitting school or your job. Before committing any of these reckless decisions or behaviors, seek professional help, especially when the signs cannot be ignored any longer.


The “Vital Signs” of Adjustment Disorders

 Since change is natural, when is it prudent to seek professional assistance for adjustment disorders?  What are the signs that you are becoming overwhelmed or that your natural ability to adjust is down? According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, “…the symptoms of this condition… often include a depressed or anxious mood, changes in daily habits, feelings of overwhelming stress and panic, difficulty enjoying activities, and changes in sleeping or eating.”

 According to Healthline, the signs and symptoms of adjustment disorders can be presented in the forms of physical and emotional manifestations, to wit:

Physical Symptoms

  • insomnia
  • muscle twitches or trembling
  • fatigue
  • body pain or soreness
  • indigestion

Emotional Symptoms

  • acting rebellious or impulsively
  • acting anxious
  • feeling sad, hopeless, or trapped
  • crying
  • withdrawn attitude
  • lack of concentration
  • loss of self esteem
  • suicidal thoughts


Differentiating the Six Types

Adjustment disorders could be triggered by an emotional condition.  It is possible that what is hindering their adjustment ability is a condition affecting their emotions. The symptoms associated with the condition are, therefore, used as the basis in the classification of adjustment disorders.  According to Healthline, there are six types, and these are:


  1. Adjustment disorder with depressed mood – If you have this type, you are likely to experience symptoms akin to a depressed person – excessive sadness, loss of interest in people and things that you were once passionate about, hopelessness and helplessness, social withdrawal, etc.


  1. Adjustment disorder with anxiety – With this type you can experience symptoms, such as excessive and baseless worrying. It may also affect your ability to concentrate, bringing about a lot of negative repercussions – accidents and blunders, academic and work-related issues, confusion, unfounded anger, etc.


  1. Adjustment disorder with mixed anxiety and depressed mood – You may similarly exhibit symptoms 1 – depression and 2 – anxiety. In this case, you could be struggling with both emotional conditions, and both depression and anxiety could weigh down your adjustment skills.


  1. Adjustment disorder with disturbance of conduct – Excessive and unabated worrying can also trigger behaviors that can be defined as irresponsible and risky, putting your life and health (or that of others) in grave danger. This may include taking intoxicating and addictive substances, extreme defiance, reckless driving, skipping school, etc.


  1. Adjustment disorder with mixed disturbance of emotions and conduct – This type has symptoms that are typical for people with depression, anxiety and behavioral conditions.


  1. Adjustment disorder unspecified – The sixth type is characterized by manifestations that cannot be defined as typical, being excessive and damaging. This could be associated with other emotional conditions, but may still be associated with depression, anxiety and behavioral disorders.


Dodging the Risks and Complications

Adjustment disorders can be a temporary setback in your life, but only if you can bounce back sooner than later from its disruptive effects. There is also the possibility that it can go on and on, especially when it is linked to other emotional issues – depression, anxiety, and behavioral conditions. The impact can also be long-lasting, so it can leave permanent damage in your life – a permanent injury after a car accident, not graduating from school, an unwanted pregnancy, etc.

It is true that change is constant in life and that you may have no buffer against it. You have, however, the means and ways to circumvent fateful repercussions soon after an irresponsible act or decision. For instance, you have the option to seek early help from a behavioral health professional. You can be diagnosed promptly if you have an emotional condition, so that it is prevented from becoming more complicated and from hurting your adjustment ability.

Though adjustment disorders are generally transient in nature, the triggering and/or complicating emotional conditions are not. Because these are “disorders” or conditions, achieving wellness is not about to come without diagnosis and treatment. Thus, to avoid the serious effects of any of these conditions and of adjustment disorders, seek professional assistance promptly.


Adjusting Well with CCS

Recovering from an adjustment disorder and from the related emotional conditions are real possibilities, if you can be diagnosed and treated by a counselor/therapist independently contracted with Carolina Counseling Services – North Fayetteville Office – Fayetteville, NC. For the condition to be “short-term,” you must not wait too long. While adjusting is as natural as breathing and eating, it isn’t healthy to underestimate the impact of these emotional conditions.

Changes in life can bring about happiness, opportunities, growth and so much more, but these can also bring in too much, too soon. To be able to adjust well and make the most of the important things in your life, seek help from an experienced counselor independently contracted with Carolina Counseling Services – North Fayetteville Office – Fayetteville, NC with haste. Have a grand time living, laughing, loving all the way to your dream destination. Call today!

Serving Areas: Carolina Counseling Services – Fayetteville, NC (North)

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  • Becky Clark, MSW, LCSW

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