What is Adjustment Disorder?
The presence of emotional or behavioral symptoms in response to an identifiable stressor is the essential feature of adjustment disorders (Criterion A). The stressor may be a single event (e.g., a termination of a romantic relationship), or there may be multiple stressors (e.g., marked business difficulties and marital problems). Stressors may be recurrent (e.g., associated with seasonal business crises, unfulfilling sexual relationships) or continuous (e.g., a persistent painful illness with increasing disability, living in a crime-ridden neighborhood). Stressors may affect a single individual, an entire family, or a larger group or community (e.g., a natural disaster). Some stressors may accompany specific developmental events (e.g., going to school, leaving a parental home, reentering a parental home, getting married, becoming a parent, failing to attain occupational goals, retirement). Adjustment disorders may be diagnosed following the death of a loved one when the intensity, quality, or persistence of grief reactions exceeds what normally might be expected, when cultural, religious, or age-appropriate norms are taken into account. A more specific set of bereavement-related symptoms has been designated persistent complex bereavement disorder. Adjustment disorders are associated with an increased risk of suicide attempts and completed suicide.–American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-5. Washington, D.C: American Psychiatric Association.