Adjustment disorder

Adjustment disorder

What is adjustment disorder?

Everyone experiences something more or less radical in their life. The loss of a job, an illness or a divorce. But less ‘serious’ events can also be drastic; a move, the birth of a child or the transition to a new phase of life.

People are resilient and usually well able to adapt to a new situation within a relatively short time. However, this adjustment does not always succeed. We speak of an ‘adjustment disorder’ if someone has psychological complaints after a major event or change (a stressful situation) that prevents normal daily functioning at home and at work. This also includes overstrain and burnout.
It does not mean that someone is inappropriate; it means that the person has difficulty adapting emotionally to the changed situation.
In most cases, the symptoms disappear within six months after the source of stress has disappeared. Some stress factors take a long time or are chronic (for example, a sick partner or child), which means that the adjustment disorder can last longer than six months.

Symptoms adjustment disorder

Adaptive disorder can be expressed in various ways. When a depressed mood, fatigue and loss of interest are paramount, we speak of an adaptive disorder with depressive mood. Other depressive characteristics may also exist, such as lack of appetite and sleeping problems. It is also possible that anxiety is at the forefront, we speak of an adaptive disorder with anxiety.
The combination of depressive and anxious feelings also occurs. Sometimes it happens with an adjustment disorder that a person starts behaving very differently than normal. For example, he becomes aggressive and will drive recklessly or often look for a fight. Read more about the symptoms of an adjustment disorder? 

How does an adjustment disorder arise?

An adjustment disorder can occur after a change or event that causes stress and requires a certain degree of adjustment.
The occurrence of complaints mainly depends on the way you deal with it. However, this certainly does not mean that you are ‘weak’ if you do get complaints. Many factors can play a role in how you deal with changes and events.
Way of thinking An important factor, as with other depressive complaints and anxiety complaints, can be your way of thinking.
You may be inclined to look very negatively at changes that are taking place. This means that certain things can feel much heavier than they actually are.
It is also possible that you underestimate yourself, look at yourself negatively and think that you cannot cope with it. Things can seem insurmountable, while in reality they are not.
Some people have a general feeling of “helplessness.” They have had experiences in their lives, as a result of which they have this feeling: ‘it makes no sense what I do, I am at the mercy of what happens and have no influence on it’. Although this belief is probably not always correct, in the event of a setback these people will be more likely to get down and get complaints than people who try to influence their own situation.
It may also be that someone has already had a lot of grief and does not feel strong enough to deal with one more setback. The feeling of ‘I can’t take this anymore’ can lead to psychological complaints.
Way of solving problems Some people have not learned the right skills to deal with the changes in life as well as possible. There are many different ways to deal with problems.
Some people actively seek solutions, while others seek support from others or seek distraction. It is not generally the case that one way is better than the other.
People who can deal with problems in different ways are often best off. One situation simply requires a different approach than the other. If you are moving, it is not convenient to find distractions and to avoid the problem; addressing or seeking support is more appropriate in this situation. However, if you are dealing with a long-term sick partner, for example, then there is not much that can be done. Then you will also have to look for distraction from time to time to stay afloat.
Ways to deal with problems must be learned during life. For example, if you have never learned to ask for help from others, you may get stuck in a situation where you desperately need that help.

Is it serious and what can you expect?

Having an adjustment disorder can mean a very annoying period in your life. The complaints can have a very negative influence on your normal daily functioning. However, the symptoms are often milder than those with a depressive disorder or an anxiety disorder.
In most cases, the symptoms will disappear fairly quickly, when the source of the stress has disappeared or is over. You will then recover and be able to pick up your life again.
Sometimes the events that cause the stress can last for a long time; in that case, the symptoms can sometimes last a long time. In these situations, too, people often appear to be able to adjust, even before the stress period has really come to an end.
In some cases the depressive symptoms or anxiety complaints persist longer than expected. The symptoms can then continue, while the change that caused the stress has long since disappeared.
The way in which you deal with the stress situation largely determines the extent to which you will have complaints. If you manage to find a good way to deal with the stress situation, you will have fewer complaints.

When to the doctor?

If the depressive or anxious symptoms are very annoying and obstructing and you do not notice any improvement, it is good to see your doctor. If you encounter obstacles especially at work, a conversation with the company doctor can also be a good thing.
Discussing your complaints and sorting things out together can sometimes be very enlightening and bring the solution closer. The doctor may suggest that you use medication temporarily, such as tranquilizers or sleep medication.
These drugs will of course not eliminate the cause, but a period with less anxiety can make you stronger and make it easier to deal with the problems.
There are drawbacks to this type of medication, such as the risk of addiction and the adverse effect on driving behavior. The use of these agents must therefore be limited to a maximum of a few weeks.
Conversation therapy can help you handle the changes and find a new balance in your life. Your doctor can refer you to a psychologist or social worker.

What can you do about it yourself?

  • Find out for yourself what the cause of your complaints is and what the possibilities are for dealing with them. Find out if you often have negative thoughts that affect your mood and prevent you from coping with stress. Perhaps you look very unilaterally at the situation and you only have an eye for the negative sides. Or maybe you underestimate yourself and your options for dealing with the situation. Try to put your thoughts and considerations on paper. Try to come up with realistic solutions to your problems and implement them. Sometimes that is better in small steps. Also consider how you have solved problems in the past
  • Seek help and support from others, talk about what concerns you and what your concerns are. Do this in family or friends. If you do not dare or do not want that, go to a care provider. The doctor is usually the first designated, he can further help or refer you
  • Take good care of yourself in periods of stress and change. Eat healthily and regularly, get a good night’s sleep and find ways to relax. Take time for fun things. Do not get lost, but try to get clear to yourself about what you can do to improve your situation and feel better.

General advice and precautions

You can see some changes in your life coming in advance. It is often about changes that you choose yourself, such as a move, a new job or having a child. Try to prepare for this, and do not let such situations just come to you.
Find out for yourself what this change means for you, both practically and emotionally. Most things in life have two sides.
Even if you opt for a full 100 percent change, you can sometimes have mixed feelings about this. Don’t push these feelings away, they just belong. It can also be nice and useful to discuss these thoughts and feelings with others.
Source : dokterdokter

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