Adjustment Disorder Treatment Scottsdale | Phoenix

Psychologists and psychiatrists at Shier Private Practice in Scottsdale, AZ specialize in the treatment of adjustment disorder. Our private outpatient clinic offers a comprehensive psychiatric/medical assessment and treatment plan. Treatment may include medications, behavioral therapies or a combination of treatments.

What Is Adjustment Disorder?

An adjustment disorder is characterized by the development of specific emotional and behavioral symptoms in response to a stressful event or situation; the symptoms generally begin within 3 months of the event. Individuals with adjustment disorders have distress that is out of proportion, in terms of severity/intensity, of the stressor. There are several sources of stress that may trigger an adjustment disorder, such as major life changes, losses, or traumatic experiences. There are a range of symptoms that may be present with an adjustment disorder such as sadness, crying, anxiety, headaches, social withdrawal/isolation, or problems sleeping. While adjustment disorders may share some of the symptoms of major depression, an adjustment disorder involves fewer physical and emotional symptoms and lower levels of severity. This type of disorder rarely lasts longer than six months, unless the source of stress is persistent.

Adjustment disorder is a common diagnosis, with a 5%-20% prevalence in outpatient mental health treatment.

What Are the Symptoms of Adjustment Disorder?

The DSM-5 criteria for adjustment disorder are as follows:

  1. The development of emotional or behavioral symptoms in response to an identifiable stressor(s) occurring within 3 months of the onset of the stressor(s)
  2. These symptoms or behaviors are clinically significant, as evidenced by one or both of the following:
      1. Marked distress that is out of proportion to the severity or intensity of the stressor, taking into account the external context and the cultural factors that might influence symptom severity and presentation.
      2. Significant impairment in social occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
  3. The stress-related disturbance does not meet the criteria for another mental disorder and is not merely an exacerbation of a preexisting mental disorder.
  4. The symptoms do not represent normal bereavement.
  5. Once the stressor or its consequences have terminated, the symptoms do not persist for more than an additional 6 months.

What Is the Cause of Adjustment Disorder?

It is unknown why a stressful event may lead to an adjustment disorder in one individual and not in another. Adjustment disorder affects all races, genders, and ages, though it is more common to occur during major transitions, such as adolescence, mid-life and late-life.

How Is Adjustment Disorder Diagnosed?

Adjustment Disorder is diagnosed through a thorough biopsychosocial psychiatric evaluation and medical assessment used to rule out other psychological and medical conditions that may present with similar symptomatology.

Adjustment Disorder Treatment

Psychotherapy has shown to be effective in the treatment of adjustment disorder. Through therapy, an individual may be better able to understand why a certain stressor affected them, and may be provided with coping skills to work through their emotions and/or behaviors. Adjustment disorder is considered a short-term difficulty, from which most individuals recover successfully in a matter of months. Couples or family therapy may be beneficial if the disorder is negatively affecting these relationships.

How To Cope

  1. Maintaining a balanced lifestyle can help an individual manage their response to stressors.
  2. Relaxation techniques – Participating in mindfulness meditation or deep breathing exercises can reduce an individual’s overall stress level and may reduce symptoms associated with an adjustment disorder
  3. Exercise routine – 30 minutes of daily aerobic exercise may help manage symptoms by reducing anxiety and diverting an individual’s attention away from stressors
  4. Good sleep hygiene – Healthy sleep patterns promote a stronger ability to maintain emotional equilibrium, making it easier to cope with stress
  5. Support groups – Many people with adjustment disorders find support groups related to their specific stressor to be helpful in recovery. Support groups will help you meet others with similar experiences, share coping strategies, and gain a sense empowerment.

Last update: February 25, 2019

The content on this website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.