Life can throw us considerable challenges and stretch our coping abilities to their limit. A diagnosis of Adjustment Disorder refers to marked emotional distress and difficulty functioning in day-to-day life during or within three months of experiencing a major stressor. This stressor might be a divorce, loss of job, significant illness of ourselves or someone we’re very close to, or other substantial life changes. We may notice feeling extremely stressed, overwhelmed and anxious, sad and hopeless, have difficulty concentrating, and/or act impulsively or recklessly. Given the variety of different responses we may experience, there are different subtypes to classify adjustment disorder as occurring with depressed mood, anxiety, and/or disturbance in conduct.
Estimates of what proportion of people in the general population experience adjustment disorder are often between one to four percent.
For some of us, the symptoms of adjustment disorder can resolve within a few months of the stressor having passed. It can also be that, due to different reasons, our level of distress is so high or has been going on for so long that we would benefit from professional support.