Saturday, April 20, 2024
HomeDisorderWhat Is Adjustment Disorder With Anxiety

What Is Adjustment Disorder With Anxiety

Types Of Adjustment Disorder In The Dsm

What is Adjustment Disorder?

There are six subtypes of adjustment disorder delineated in the DSM-5. All share the above criteria specifically, they are precipitated by an obvious stressor, cause distressful symptoms, and are time-limited.

The DSM-5 criteria for each type of adjustment disorder relate to its specific symptoms. The manual specifies adjustment disorder with

When diagnosing an adjustment disorder, clinicians examine the specific DSM-5 criteria for adjustment disorder and match the persons symptoms to the subtypes. Specifying the type of adjustment disorder someone is experiencing helps the person receive the correct treatment.

Anxiety and fear are common human responses to stressors. Sometimes people experience anhedonia they lose their sense of pleasure and enjoyment. Low mood is another response to a stressor. Sometimes, people exhibit irritability, anger, or aggression. These all are normal human reactions to stressors however, when they meet the DSM criteria for adjustment disorder, a diagnosis is made and a proper treatment plan can begin.

Summary Of Adjustment Disorder Vs Anxiety

  • Adjustment disorder is a form of depression that is caused by a major life stressor such as a death in the family.
  • Anxiety can occur for a number of reasons including genetics, psychological makeup, and environmental factors.
  • Both adjustment disorder and anxiety can be treated with a combination of cognitive therapy and medications such as benzodiazepines.
  • Adjustment disorder does not last for more than 6 months.
  • The duration of anxiety disorder varies depending on what type of disorder it is and may be a short-term condition or may be chronic.

Causes Of Adjustment Disorder

Adjustment disorder is a reaction to a particular stressor, whether a stressful life event or a major life change. In both children and adults, adjustment disorder can be caused by any event which feels greatly significant to the particular person, regardless of whether or not this event appears significant to others.

Common stressors that may lead to adjustment disorder in a person of any age include:

  • Giving birth
  • The death of a loved one

Common stressors that may affect a child or young adult include:

  • Parental divorce or separation
  • Moving to a new house, neighborhood or new town
  • Problems at school, such as not being able to keep up with demands from school, changing schools or not being able to connect with peers
  • Health issues and/or sexuality issues, i.e. uncertainties related to sexual orientation
  • Death of a close relative or friend

Read Also: Can You Get Headaches From Anxiety

How Does Adjustment Disorder Differ From Depression

Depression is generally characterized as having difficulty with emotion regulation. While adjustment disorder may seem similar to depression, the cause and how long the symptoms last make them different.

Adjustment disorder generally lasts up to 6 months due to a change in life events. Depression, on the other hand, is more long-term and can be a result of environmental, psychological, or genetic factors.

Some medical professionals view adjustment disorder as situational depression since the symptoms can be similar but dont last as long.

The Duration Of Treatment Is Often Brief But Can Last For Longer In People With Persistent Or Chronic Adjustment Disorder Particularly If The Stressor Is Ongoing

Adjustment Disorder With Depression And Anxiety Dsm 5 ...

Treatment for adjustment disorder can be highly effective and includes therapies such as:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • And/or medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors

Cognitive-behavioral therapy or talk therapy, as it is also called, is the main treatment and can be a source of emotional support. Therapy includes education about the condition, how and why it impacted the client, what successful coping mechanisms look like, and how to get back on ones feet. Sessions are available as family, group, or individual therapy.

To treat symptoms of anxiety and/or depression, medications such as antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs may be included for a time as part of a more comprehensive treatment plan for AjD. If prescribed, their use, dosage, and a plan for how and when to come off them must be followed strictly

Recommended Reading: Does Chewing Gum Help With Anxiety

Ad/srs Treatment And Home Care

If you have symptoms of AD/SRS, it is important that you seek medical care. Adjustment disorder can sometimes turn into major depressive episodes in people who are at risk for getting mood disorders. If you turn to alcohol or drugs to manage your stress and anxiety, you may develop a substance abuse problem.

Treatment for AD/SRS may include:

How Is Adjustment Disorder Diagnosed

In order to be diagnosed with an adjustment disorder, a person must meet the following criteria:

  • experiencing psychological or behavioral symptoms within three months of an identifiable stressor or stressors occurring in your life
  • having more stress than would be ordinary in response to a specific stressor, or stress that causes issues with relationships, in school or at work, or experiencing both of these criteria
  • the improvement of symptoms within six months after the stressor or stressors are removed
  • symptoms that arent the result of another diagnosis

Read Also: How Long Can Anxiety Last

Types Of Adjustment Disorders

There are several types of adjustment disorder, each characterized by a different range of symptoms:

  • Adjustment Disorder with Anxiety Habitual nervousness or worry are common here. This form is often associated with separation anxiety from a comfortable, safe, or well-known environment.
  • Adjustment Disorder with Depressed Mood This type of adjustment disorder is marked by feelings of intense sorrow, grief, or hopelessness.
  • Adjustment Disorder with Mixed Anxiety and Depressed Mood This form combines feelings of anxiety with the deep melancholy of a depressed state.
  • Adjustment Disorder with Disturbance of Conduct Behavioral, rather than mood, changes are the predominant features. This may include trouble functioning in daily activities, withdrawing from social supports, avoiding important responsibilities, reckless behavior, or even suicidal thoughts or behaviors.
  • Adjustment Disorder with Mixed Disturbance of Emotions and Conduct Both emotional and behavioral problems mark this type of adjustment disorder.
  • Unspecified Adjustment Disorder This form lacks the standard emotional or behavioral symptoms, but manifests in other ways .

Debates About Ajd Definition In Icd And Dsm

Adjustment Disorder with Anxiety VA Disability Ratings

The ICD-10 and DSM-IV/DSM-5 AjD definitions attracted considerable criticism. Several authors pointed out that the definition itself is rather loose. This resulted in misuse of the diagnosis in clinical practice. Mental health professionals meet patients with AjD often, but it is difficult to use this diagnosis in a clinical practice. For example, the analysis of 2,155 psychologists from 23 countries showed that about 40% of them had a patient with ICD-10 or DSM-IV AjD diagnosis at least once per week, but they also indicated that ICD-10 AjD had low ease of use.

Because of the diagnostic challenges, findings about AjD prevalence are inconsistent across various studies. AjD was neglected in major epidemiological studies and AjD research was criticized for poor methodological design. Furthermore, the existing AjD diagnosis definitions raised constant debates about underdiagnosing AjD and pathologization of normal stress reactions. It was also proposed that health care professionals tend to use AjD diagnosis as a residual category, when the symptom profile does not match any other diagnosis.

Recommended Reading: What To Drink For Anxiety

Signs And Symptoms Of Adjustment Disorder

The symptoms of adjustment disorder do change from person to person, often wildly enough that a diagnosis of adjustment disorder is challenging. The one constant characteristic of adjustment disorder is the symptoms appearing within a certain time period after a major, stressful life event.

Behavioral Symptoms:

  • Ignoring bills and other financial obligations
  • Avoiding friends, family, and loved ones
  • Poor work or school performance
  • Being late to work or school frequently
  • Excessive absenteeism
  • Feeling isolated, apart from others
  • Hopelessness
  • Inability to feel joy or pleasure
  • Anxiety and nervousness


Distinguishing Adjustment Disorder With Mixed Anxiety And Depressed Moods From Anxiety And Depression

Because adjustment disorder symptoms are shared with symptoms of other mental health disorders, it can be challenging to determine an accurate diagnosis. In the case of adjustment disorder with depressed mood, a doctor or mental health professional will work with the person experiencing the symptoms to determine whether he/she is dealing with an anxiety disorder, depressive disorder, both, or adjustment disorder with mixed anxiety and depressed mood.

Perhaps the single most important factor in differentiating between adjustment disorders and other mental health disorders is the presence of one or more identifiable stressors in the persons life. Adjustment disorder happens when someone is having difficulty coping with or adjusting to one or more life stressors of any severity. In the case of adjustment disorder with anxiety and depression, the stressors lead to both symptoms of anxiety and symptoms of depression. Without identifiable stressors that cause the symptoms, a diagnosis of something other than adjustment disorder is appropriate.

Recommended Reading: What Is Adjustment Disorder With Anxiety And Depression

Adjustment Disorder Vs Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

An adjustment disorder/stress response syndrome is not the same as posttraumatic stress disorder . PTSD is a reaction to a life-threatening event that happens at least 1 month after the event, and its symptoms tend to last longer than in adjustment disorders/stress response syndromes. By comparison, adjustment disorders/stress response syndromes rarely last longer than 6 months.

Seek Help For Adjustment Disorder


If you find that youre having difficulty simply getting through each day, then its important that you seek expert adjustment disorder treatment in order to alleviate your symptoms, and return to a positive and fulfilling way of life.

You dont have to suffer with adjustment disorder alone specialist psychological treatment at Priory can help you learn to cope with stressful life events and enable you to feel more positive about your situation through a range of personalised adjustment disorder treatment programmes. Our world class psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists and other mental health professionals possess a wealth of experience in treating adjustment disorder and can help you to regain control of your life.

You dont have to struggle with a mental health condition expert treatment is available. Get the support you need today by calling us on: 0800 840 3219 or sending an enquiry form online.

Also Check: Does Adhd Medication Help With Anxiety

What Are The Signs Of Adjustment Disorders

Often, adjustment disorders look similar to depression or anxiety. When we look at diagnosing adjustment disorders, we can categorize and say, This is an adjustment disorder with depressed mood, or This is an adjustment disorder with anxiety, or it can be a mix of both depression and anxiety, Dr. Henderson says.

Yet, adjustment disorder is not a term most patients use when they first seek help. Most of the time, people coming into Dr. Hendersons office will say, I just cant seem to get over losing my job, or I cant seem to manage everything in my life the way I used to.

Commonly, adjustment disorders also show symptoms like trouble concentrating or trouble with memory. Gina Shuster, LMSW, a therapist at Oakland Psychological Clinic, sees patients who say Im so forgetful now and I never used to be this way I get so flustered all the time or I cant find the right words. With anxiety disorders that present as anxiety or depression, Shuster says, your body is spending so much energy just trying to maintain itself at this heightened emotional state that little things like memory and concentration start to slip. Its like juggling a bunch of different balls in the air. Eventually, some things are going to have to be let go, she says.

Recommended Reading: What Is A Severe Anxiety Attack

Causes And Risk Factors For Adjustment Disorder

Adjustment disorder impacts people differently at different ages and can occur at any age. The causes and risk factors for adjustment disorder likely include a complex interplay of genetic, environmental, and physical risk factors working together.

Common types of stressors that can trigger adjustment disorder include:

  • Ending a relationship or marriage
  • Losing or changing jobs
  • Physical or sexual abuse or assault
  • Overprotective or abusive parenting as a child
  • Family disruptions as a child
  • Frequent moves in early life

Signs and Symptoms

Read Also: How To Get Rid Of Anxiety Stomach Pain

Also Check: What Do You Take For Anxiety

Service Connection Based On Aggravation

Importantly, VA will also compensate veterans for conditions that existed at the time of entry into service and were made worse or aggravated by service. According to 38 CFR § 3.306, a preexisting injury or disease will be considered to have been aggravated by active military, naval, or air service, where there is an increase in disability during such service, unless there is a specific finding that the increase in disability is due to the natural progress of the disease. Therefore, if a veteran was diagnosed with adjustment disorder with anxiety prior to service, they may still qualify for VA disability benefits if they can prove that the condition worsened as a result of active duty service.

Once The Stress Is Resolved Or The Person Has Started To Cope With The Change In Circumstance The Symptoms Start To Fade

Adjustment Disorder with Mixed Anxiety & Depressed Mood Example Video

The official DSM-5 definition of an adjustment disorder is The presence of emotional or behavioral symptoms in response to an identifiable stressor occurring within three months of the onset of the stressor.

The response to the stressor has to be more than a typical reaction and the symptoms have to cause the child a problem with his or her ability to function. The impairment has to be the result of the stressor and not an escalation of a problem that had been there before the stress occurred. Once the stress is resolved or the person has started to cope with the change in circumstance, the symptoms start to fade .

In Lindseys case, her reaction to her parents divorce was causing her problems emotionally, in that she frequently cried and seemed sad. Her ability to function in school started to decline. Before the stress, Lindsey was a happy-go-lucky kid, so this wasnt something that made a previous issue worse. Her problems werent better accounted for by another psychological disorder, like depression or anxiety. Once she started to talk about things, she started to feel better. All of these symptoms made an adjustment disorder the appropriate diagnosis for Lindsey.

Adjustment disorders can fit one of six subtypes. So, while all of them share the criteria mentioned above, they need to fit one of the following more specific categories:

  • Depressed mood
  • Mixed depressed mood and anxiety
  • Disturbance of conduct
  • Mixed disturbance of conduct and emotions
  • Unspecified

Also Check: How Do You Know You Have Anxiety

Adjustment Disorder Criteria & Symptoms

Although mental health disorders often overlap with their symptoms, each one has unique characteristics that set it apart. The hallmark characteristics of adjustment disorder are:

  • The patients distress outweighs the original event
  • The person experiences problems in their relationships, work, or other vital parts of their lives

These issues can manifest in several specific ways. Patients all experience adjustment disorder in unique ways. However, some common symptoms include:

  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts
  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Sleeping too much

These symptoms can indicate several other mental health disorders as well. Thats why its essential to refer to the DSM-5 for diagnostic criteria. Mental health professionals use this guide to make diagnoses so that patients get the help they need. According to the DSM-5, patients with adjustment disorder:

  • Begin experiencing their symptoms within three months after an identifiable trigger
  • Have more negative emotions than one would expect following the event
  • Experience such negative feelings that it interrupts their daily lives
  • Cannot pin their symptoms on other mental disorders, such as pre-existing depression or anxiety

- Advertisment -

Most Popular

- Advertisment -