Adjustment Disorder Signs, Symptoms & Effects

Delta Specialty Hospital helps individuals struggling with a mental health disorder build a strong foundation for long-term recovery. Serving Memphis, TN, Delta is the preferred provider of mental health treatment.

Understanding Adjustment Disorder

Learn about adjustment disorder

Aside from depression and anxiety disorders, adjustment disorder is one of the most frequently diagnosed disorders among those who grapple with mental health concerns.

When someone experiences a life stressor or change and is not able to adapt to what has happened, it is possible that that person will begin experiencing symptoms synonymous with adjustment disorder. Daily functioning can become hindered, and the ability to adhere to daily responsibilities can become exceptionally challenging the longer this sort of illness remains untreated.

Getting married, getting divorced, having a new baby, moving to a new city, starting a new job, and retiring are but a few examples of life-changing events that can bring about adjustment disorder symptoms. And while these sort of changes may be exciting to some people or welcomed as new adventures in life, others can find that they are overwhelming and difficult to adjust to once they happen. Furthermore, when this illness is present, it can remain for up to six months and disrupt an individual’s ability to live a happy, healthy life.

Thankfully, if you are battling adjustment disorder, you can receive the care you need to become well again. By partaking in effective mental health treatment, you can learn how to adapt to the changes in your life and learn how to handle stress effectively in the future.


Adjustment disorder statistics

Adjustment disorder is a very common mental illness that is diagnosed in as many as half of all people who are admitted to inpatient treatment centers. Women are more likely to grapple with this disorder, and, unfortunately, many with adjustment disorder engage in self-harming behaviors when they don’t seek professional care. Lastly, twenty to fifty percent of those who have suffered from this disorder eventually receive a diagnosis for another mental disorder within a few years of experiencing symptoms of adjustment disorder.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and risk factors of adjustment disorder

Adjustment disorder is directly caused by experiencing some sort of life stressor before the onset of the symptoms of this illness. However, if you lacked healthy coping skills, social support, and/or the ability to adjust to change without a great deal of difficulty before the stressor or stressors, then you are more likely to suffer from adjustment disorder.

Additionally, if you are exposed to stress on an ongoing basis and aren’t able to process and adapt to what has transpired, in that scenario you’re also more likely to grapple with adjustment disorder.

Risk Factors:

  • Experiencing the end of a romantic relationship
  • Experiencing the loss of a loved one
  • Going through a divorce
  • Having a new baby
  • Leaving or reentering a parental home
  • Moving to a new community
  • Retiring from a job
  • Suffering from a medical condition
  • Surviving a trauma

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of adjustment disorder

While a mental health professional is the only one who can conclusively determine if you are suffering from adjustment disorder, you can note the presence of the following symptoms to deduce if this illness is what’s affecting your life after enduring some sort of stressor(s):

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Drop in performance at work or school
  • Emotional outbursts
  • Failure to attend work or school
  • Making attempts at suicide
  • No longer adhering to daily responsibilities
  • No longer participating in activities that were once enjoyed
  • Onset of self-harming behaviors
  • Tearfulness

Physical symptoms:

  • Bodily aches and pains
  • Changes in eating patterns
  • Chest pains
  • Muscle tension
  • Persistent headaches
  • Sleep disturbances

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Inability to make sound judgment
  • Poor concentration
  • Poor decision making
  • Problems with memory

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Emotional instability
  • Excessive feelings of worry
  • Feelings of nervousness
  • Hopelessness


Effects of adjustment disorder

Continuing to struggle with the symptoms of adjustment disorder is likely to negatively impact your life. Among the sort of effects that can occur, it is possible for the following to happen to you of treatment for this illness is delayed or not sought:

  • Decline in social interactions
  • Decreased performance at work or school
  • Disturbed interpersonal relationships
  • Job loss
  • Onset of symptoms of other mental health disorders
  • Self-harm
  • Substance abuse
  • Suicidal thoughts

Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms of adjustment disorder

As one of the most commonly diagnosed mental health disorders, it is quite possible for a person to grapple with other mental health concerns at the same time.

Therefore, if you seek treatment for adjustment disorder symptoms, you may also receive care for one or more of the following disorders at the same time:

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depressive disorders
  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Specific phobias

I had been struggling with adjustment disorder for about a year and never got treated until I went to Delta Specialty Hospital. The counselors guided my through my difficult time and I am now so much better than I was before.

– Former Patient
Trusted Excellence
  • Memphis Chamber of Commerce
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
  • Professional Network on Aging
  • Tennessee Hospital Association
  • Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network
  • The Jason Foundation
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