Adjustment Disorder

Adjustment disorders, often known as situational depression, arise when individuals struggle to cope with significant life stressors such as death, divorce, or other overwhelming events. This inability to adjust can lead to severe psychological and sometimes physical symptoms. There are six distinct types of adjustment disorders, each with unique symptoms affecting both adults and children. These range from depressed and anxious moods to disturbances in conduct and mixed emotional and behavioral issues. Common symptoms include anxiety, loss of self-esteem, behavioral outbursts, and in some cases, suicidal thoughts. Treatment primarily focuses on alleviating these symptoms through psychotherapy, family therapy, and behavioral therapy, aiming to restore normal functioning.

The inability to adjust to a situation or happening can cause one or more severe psychological and sometimes physical symptoms. There are six types of adjustment disorders and each has its own distinct symptoms. Adjustment disorders can affect both adults and children.

Adjustment disorder with depressed mood
Expresses symptoms of depression along with loss of self-esteem, lack of motivation and feeling very down.

Adjustment disorder with anxious mood
Symptoms include anxiety, excessive worry, feeling overwhelmed. Memory and concentration are affected negatively. Children with this disorder usually suffer with separation anxiety.

Adjustment disorder with mixed anxiety and depressed mood
The symptoms present a combination of depression and anxiety.

Adjustment disorder with disturbance of conduct
The dominant symptoms are behaviour’s that break the societal norms or the rights of others such as substance abuse, outbursts of anger and revenge seeking.

Adjustment disorder mixed disturbance of conduct and emotions
The symptoms prevalent in this type of adjustment disorder include emotional distress and disturbances of conduct.

Adjustment disorder unspecified
This type of adjustment disorder displays dysfunctional responses to major life events that do not meet the criteria for other subtypes of adjustment disorder

The mental symptoms of adjustment disorders can include:

  • Rebellious or impulsive actions
  • Crying
  • Anxiousness
  • Loss of self-esteem
  • Feelings of sadness, hopelessness or being trapped
  • Withdrawn attitude
  • Lack of concentration
  • Suicidal thoughts


Stress in teenagers and young adults may be triggered by and include:

  • Family problems or conflict
  • School problems
  • Sexuality issues


The primary aim of treatment for adjustment disorder is to relieve symptoms and to help people achieve a level of normalcy and function again. Suggested treatments include individual psychotherapy, family therapy and behavioural therapy.

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