Adjustment Disorder

Adjustment Disorder is an abnormal and excessive reaction to an identifiable life stressor. The reaction is more severe than would normally be expected, and can result in significant impairment in social, occupational or academic functioning. 

The response may be linked to a single event (a flood or fire, marriage, divorce, starting school, new job) or multiple events (marital problems or severe business difficulties). Stressors may be recurrent events (child witnessing parents constantly fighting, chemotherapy, financial difficulties) or continuous (living in a crime-ridden neighborhood).

Adjustment Disorder often occurs with one or more of the following: depressed mood; anxiety, disturbance of conduct (in which the patient violates rights of others or major age-appropriate societal norms or rules), and maladaptive reactions (problems related to job or school, physical complaints, social isolation).

Adjustment disorders are associated with higher risk of suicide and suicidal behavior; substance abuse; prolonging of other medical disorders or interference with their treatment. Adjustment disorder that persists may progress to become a more serious mental disorder (major depressive disorder).

Also known as Situational Depression.

Adjustment Disorder. Last reviewed 12/31/1969
  • American Psychiatric Association
  • National Cancer Institute
  • National Institutes of Health
  • Pelkonen M, Marttunen M, Henriksson M: Suicidality in adjustment disorder