Adjustment Difficulties or Adjustment Disorder

What is an adjustment difficulty or adjustment disorder?

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Life is full of considerable challenges that can sometimes stretch our coping mechanisms. An adjustment difficulty or adjustment disorder refers to marked emotional distress and difficulty in functioning in day-to-day life during a major stressor, or within three months following a major life event. As we are all so individual, there are a variety of responses we may experience and many subtypes to categorise the disturbance you may feel in the wake of a life adjustment.

Strategies to try now

Making lifestyle changes can be a helpful start to reducing the symptoms of an adjustment difficulty. The most commonly recommended tips that can sometimes lessen the effect an adjustment difficulty has on our lives are:

Keeping socially active
Being physically active
Reducing alcohol and non-prescription drug intake
Maintaining a daily routine
Speaking about difficulties we are having with someone we trust
Doing things that give us a sense of pleasure and achievement
Learning and practicing relaxation techniques

It is estimated that 1-4% of the of population experience adjustment difficulties or adjustment disorders at any one time.

Warning signs and symptoms of an adjustment difficulty or adjustment disorder

Overwhelming stress
A sad or hopeless outlook
Isolating yourself from others
Difficulty concentrating
Impulsive or reckless actions

Frequently Asked Questions

Some simple facts to help you understand Adjustment Difficulties and how you can best manage them.

Adjustment difficulty resources

Risks factors for an adjustment difficulty or adjustment disorder.

  • Loss of employment
  • Having a new child
  • Going away to university
  • Entering retirement
  • Significant illness, either in ourselves or someone we are close to
  • Divorce
  • Other substantial life changes

How common are adjustment difficulties and adjustment disorders?

Estimates of what proportion of the population experience adjustment difficulties or disorder range from 1-4%.

Life after an adjustment difficulty or adjustment disorder.

The feelings caused by an adjustment difficulty or adjustment disorder can definitely be overcome. Focused professional treatment can help you develop skills to regain a sense of stability in life and to cope and adapt to ongoing stress, effectively solve problems, and reduce tension and stress-related emotions.

Getting Professional Help

Evidence based treatments make the biggest difference.

For some of us, the symptoms of adjustment difficulty or 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. The first step is to speak with your GP about the way you are feeling. After discussing your symptoms, the GP may direct you to a psychologist near you who specialises in assisting people through major life changes.

Myths About Adjustment Difficulties and Adjustment Disorder

``There is only one type of behaviour that characterises an adjustment difficulty or adjustment disorder``
Adjustment Difficulties Myth 1
``An adjustment difficulty or adjustment disorder is long lasting``
Adjustment Difficulties Myth 2
``Adjustment difficulties and adjustment disorders are the same as PTSD``
Adjustment Difficulties Myth 3
``Adjustment difficulties and adjustment disorders can only be triggered by negative circumstances``
Adjustment Difficulties Myth 4

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