Adjustment Disorder refers to a group of physical and psychological symptoms that appear as an abnormally excessive reaction to one or more life stresses. The symptoms of adjustment disorder appear within three months of the appearance of the stress factor, and lasts up to about six months after the stress factor ends. These stress factors include life events and situations including a single event like marriage, starting a new job, moving to a new city, etc., or recurring events like children who witness their parents fighting regularly. Symptoms of the condition include depression and anxiety, agitation, palpitations, trembling, abnormal social or work functioning, harmful behavior like vandalism, fighting, etc., and even physical symptoms like headache, uneasiness, nausea, etc.
Adjustment disorder is caused by one or more stress factors that vary according to age, gender, social situation, financial condition, etc. For example, common stressors in adults are related to work, financial conditions, marital condition, etc. In children and adolescents, common stressors generally include school related problems, marital difficulties of parents, issues related to sexuality, etc. Adjustment disorders arise when a person is unable to cope with these stressors for a variety of reasons.
Treatment for adjustment disorders focus on tackling the symptoms like depression and anxiety combined with psychotherapy to help the patient develop skills to deal with stressors. Adjustment disorders are short term and rarely have a significant negative impact on the patient’s health long term. Medications are usually not necessary.
Treatments for adjustment disorder focus principally on alleviating the symptoms while helping the patient develop and maintain skills to deal with stressors. Individual psychotherapy and behavior therapy are combined with family and group therapies to identify the stressors causing the disorder and how the patient can cope with them. Family therapies are specially recommended in addition to individual behavior therapy for children and adolescents. All psychotherapeutic treatments are aimed at understanding and developing the patient’s abilities to deal with life stressors, and any medication used to treat symptoms like depression, anxiety, or other physical symptoms are only used in addition to psychotherapy. A stable social support system of family, friends, and other peer groups is of utmost importance in dealing with adjustment disorders.
Adjustment disorders affect different people differently, and the same stressor might trigger symptoms in some, while others may easily cope with them. Treatment is initiated only after symptoms of adjustment disorder appear, and is absolutely must in those who have suffered from or are suffering from other mental disorders. In severe cases, adjustment disorders can even cause a person to become suicidal and treatment for such people need to be undergone immediately.
Treatment for adjustment disorder is necessary for those who can effectively deal with life stressors themselves. Symptoms appear within three months of the stressor coming into play and pre emptive treatment is not required in absence of other mental conditions.
Psychotherapeutic treatments usually have no side effects. Some side effects are associated with medications if they are used.
Building and maintaining a stable support system is necessary after treatment which would help the patient to deal with other life stressors when they appear while continuing to help them develop their own coping skills.
Adjustment disorder is a short term condition and complete recovery occurs as soon as the stress factor ends. Treatment options are aimed at treating the symptoms and developing coping skills of the patient.
Price of treatment in India varies widely depending on a number of factors. Psychotherapy treatment starts from about Rs. 500 per hour and increases depending on the training and experience of the psychotherapist.
While the condition itself is short term and effective treatment is permanent for that particular stressor, other later stress factors may or may not trigger the same disorder. The long term aspect of the treatment deals with development of the patient’s coping skills.
Apart from registered psychotherapists, both formal and informal supports groups can play a big role in helping the patient deal with stress and develop their stress coping skills. Relaxation therapies like meditation can help. Sometimes, taking a break or vacation reduce the effect of the stressor and can help the patient to recover.