February 8, 2024

Adjustment Disorder and how we can help

What is adjustment disorder?

Adjustment disorder refers to the emotional and psychological difficulties that can arise from a major life change or specific event. It can also be referred to as ‘stress response syndrome’ or ‘situational depression’. It is usually a short-term condition, with symptoms rarely existing for more than six months.

Adjustment difficulties represent a reaction to an event/incident which goes beyond what is considered to be typical in that situation - symptoms may interfere with a person’s ability to function as they did before. Adjustment disorder can occur after:

  • The end of a relationship
  • The death of a loved one
  • A loss or change of job
  • A crime is committed against you
  • A natural disaster
  • A diagnosis of a serious illness for you or a loved one
  • A major life change such as getting married, having a baby or emigrating


Symptoms of adjustment disorder can be varied, representing changes in one’s usual self. Some of the most common symptoms are:

  • Hopelessness
  • Frequent crying
  • Heightened anxiety
  • Sadness
  • Headaches
  • Stomach pain
  • Heart palpitations
  • Withdrawal from social interactions
  • Destructive behaviour such as fighting, recklessness and vandalism
  • Changes in appetite
  • Tiredness
  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs

These symptoms are similar to those of other mental health conditions such as depression. However, unlike a major depressive disorder, adjustment disorder does not include as many of the physical symptoms or as high levels of severity (such as suicidal behaviour/thinking).



Talking therapy is recommended for managing adjustment difficulties. Working with a therapist will help you not only understand how an experience or situation is affecting your life, but help you take active steps in developing coping skills.

A form of group therapy may also be recommended so that you can share your feelings with others who have been through a similar experience.


There is no particular medication which is recommended for adjustment issues, though certain short-term options may be offered to help with anxiety symptoms or sleeping problems.

How to get help

The first step in getting help with your adjustment disorder is to take action towards getting some support and treatment. Seeking help is the best thing you can do. This could be as simple as talking to someone you trust, such as a family member or a friend who can help to support you in accessing help. In addition to this you can talk to your GP or a charity such as MIND who will be able to provide you with more information as to how to get help.

If you are ready to seek help from a professional, contact HelloSelf today and we can match you to a therapist suited to your needs.

Adjustment Disorder - Five facts

  • Adjustment difficulties are common and can happen to anyone, regardless of age, gender, race and sexuality.
  • Adjustment disorder is most common at points in life where major changes are more likely to occur, such as adolescence, midlife and later-life.
  • One study found that 38% of active duty military personnel hospitalized for mental health reasons were diagnosed with adjustment disorder.
  • Adjustment difficulties are more common in those suffering with cancer or severe burns as compared to the general population.
  • The most common subtype of adjustment disorder is depression, followed by anxiety, anxiety with depression, and conduct disturbance.

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