Adjustment Disorder is a response to stressors that lead to symptoms of worry, stress, feelings of hopelessness or depression and physical symptoms such as crying. Symptoms usually begin within three months of a stressful life event. Symptoms are often strong enough to disturb the person’s life, job and school. There are five subtypes of adjustment disorder. “The subtypes of adjustment disorder are classified according to the presenting symptoms: adjustment disorder, (1) with anxiety, (2) with mixed anxiety and depressed mood, (3) with mixed conduct, (4) with mixed disturbance of emotions and conduct, and (5) unspecified” (Varcarolis & Halter, 2010). The symptoms of adjustment disorder occur due to the patient’s inability to cope. The patient may have strong feelings regarding the life event and the feelings may be more severe than the patient anticipated.
The cause of adjustment disorder is as simple as a life event. “A life event that my trigger adjustment disorder include: death of a loved one, divorce or relationship problems, general life changes, illness or other health issues in yourself or loved ones, moving to a different home or city, unexpected catastrophes and worries about money” (Fred K. Berger, 2013). Family problems, conflict with family and friends, problems at school and sexuality problems may also be stressors. The definition of stressor is a “psychological or physical stimuli that are incompatible with current functioning and require adaptation” (Varcarolis & Halter, 2010). Some people adapt better than others and what one person may see as a stressor another may not. People of all ages may be diagnosed.
“Symptoms of adjustment disorder vary according to the subtype. Some of the symptoms include: acting defiant or showing impulsive behavior, acting nervous or tense, crying, feeling sad or hopeless, and possibly withdrawing from other people, skipped heartbeats and other physical complaints, trembling and/or twitching” (Fred K. Berger, 2013). To be diagnosed with adjustment disorder the person must have had the symptoms within 3 months of a stressor, the symptoms would have to be more severe than expected and the physician would rule out other causes of symptoms. The symptoms of adjustment disorder are not considered your normal symptoms of coping with stress. “The concept of normalcy is vague. What constitutes a normal response varies greatly across culture and social groups.” (Patra & Sarkar, 2013) Physicians must remember this during diagnosing and treatment, especially since there are no diagnostic tests to confirm diagnosis.
A.W. was diagnosed with adjustment disorder with mixed disturbance of emotion and conduct during her emergency visit on October 1, 2013. Her current life stressors included: loss of job, problems with roommate resulting in being homeless and financial constraints. She...