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.
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.
The DSM-5 criteria for adjustment disorder are as follows:
- 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)
- These symptoms or behaviors are clinically significant, as evidenced by one or both of the following:
- 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.
- Significant impairment in social occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
- The stress-related disturbance does not meet the criteria for another mental disorder and is not merely an exacerbation of a preexisting mental disorder.
- The symptoms do not represent normal bereavement.
- Once the stressor or its consequences have terminated, the symptoms do not persist for more than an additional 6 months.
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.
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.
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.
Last update: February 25, 2019
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