Adjustment Difficulties and Stress

Adjustment Disorder comes about due to increased stress that results in symptoms of depression and anxiety, triggered by stressful times in ones’ life. The stressor/s can be from expected or unexpected events that cause the individual to feel confused, lost, disoriented, and overwhelmed. Experiencing adjustment difficulties usually prevent individuals from going on with normal, everyday life.


What is an Adjustment Disorder?

> The presence of emotional and/or behavioural symptoms in response to stress or identifiable stressors;

> The presence of symptoms which occurred within three months of the beginning of the stress or stressors. These symptoms mirror symptoms of depression and anxiety (read on for list of symptoms);

> One or both of the following must be present: distress disproportionate with the expected reactions to the stress or stressors and/or symptoms cause severe distress and impairment in functioning;

> The distress and impairment are related to the stress or stressors and not because of an intensification of existing mental health disorders.

> The reaction isn’t part of normal bereavement;

> When the stress or stressors are removed or the individual has begun to adjust and cope, the symptoms subside within six months.


Identifiable stress and stressors can result in the following symptoms:

> Low mood and feelings of depression

> Worry

> Insomnia

> Sadness

> Difficulty concentrating

> Anxiety

> Angry or disruptive behavior

> Loss of self-esteem

> Hopelessness

> Feeling as if trapped and have no other options

> Feeling isolated


The common warning signs and symptoms for children and adolescents:

> Irritability

> Depression or depressed mood

> Poor sleep or disturbance

> Diminished performance resulting in poor grades


Stress can result from these common stressful life events:

> Covid-19 pandemic and working/schooling from home

> Divorce or beak-up of a relationship

> Getting married

> Going to school

> Starting a new class or school

> Becoming a parent

> Leaving the parents’ home

> Your child leaving the family home

> Re-entering the parents’ home after being away (such as having been at college, after a marriage or relationship breakup, or loss of a job)

> Failure to succeed in a career

> Changing to a new role or completely different industry

> Moving to a different state or country

> Retirement

> A natural disaster

> Terrorism

> Continuous painful illness that increases disability

> Residing in a crime-filled community

> Business crises that occur in the “off-season”

> Unfulfilling sexual relationship

> Difficulties with a business

> Marital problems

> Interruptions in close relationships except for bereavement

> Any events that disrupt adjustment

How Can Positive Wellbeing Psychology Help?

Our warm and compassionate psychologists work with the individual to find new behaviours and coping strategies to help feel able to deal more effectively with the problem. A psychologist will help the individual find a clearer understanding of the issue/s and use a combination of proven therapy approaches and strategies including cognitive behavioural therapy.


To enquire about an appointment with Positive Wellbeing Psychology, please complete our Online Contact Form for new clients (click here). We’ll be in touch shortly to answer any of your questions. For more information on immediate supports, please click here.

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