Adjustment disorder is an abnormal and excessive reaction to a life stressor, such as starting school, getting divorced, or grief.
Symptoms of adjustment disorder typically begin within three months of the identifiable stressor and usually do not last longer than six months. Adults often develop adjustment disorder related to marital or financial problems.
In adolescents, common stressors include school problems, family conflict, or sexuality issues. Other stressors for people of any age include the death of a loved one, general life changes, or unexpected catastrophes.
There is no way to predict which people are likely to develop adjustment disorder, given the same stressor. Financial conditions, social support, and career and recreational opportunities can influence how well a person reacts to stress. A given person's susceptibility to stress may be influenced by such factors as social skills, intelligence, flexibility, genetic factors, and coping strategies.
The primary goal of treatment is to relieve symptoms and help the person return to the level of functioning the person had before the stressful event. Treatments include individual psychotherapy, family therapy, behavior therapy, and self-help groups.
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