Are you finding yourself struggling to cope months after a traumatic event occurred? It's possible that you could be suffering from adjustment disorder, a common and treatable condition.
What is adjustment disorder?
Major life changes, such as the death of a loved one or a divorce, can be traumatic for anyone. Sadness, loss of appetite, and trouble sleeping are normal initial responses to a something stressful. Adjustment disorder occurs when a person experiences a reaction that goes beyond what is typical for a major event.
Around three months after a traumatic event has occurred, adjustment disorder may kick in. Symptoms are generally similar to major depression—crying, feelings of guilt and hopelessness, fatigue, and disinterest in daily life. Some with adjustment disorder also notice changes in appetite and sleep patterns. Symptoms of adjustment disorder begin to resolve roughly six months after the initial event.
Is adjustment disorder the same thing as depression?
Adjustment disorder is a situational-based depression. What most people think of when they hear the word depression is actually major depression—a disorder that occurs independently of a person's life situations,
How is it treated?
It's important to see a therapist (such as one from Joy Miller & Associates - Counseling & Wellness Center) if you notice yourself experiencing symptoms of adjustment disorder. Treating the problem can help prevent it from turning into major depression down the line. Treatment typically involves therapy to learn new thinking patterns and healthy ways of dealing with stress. There's no set length for how long a person with adjustment disorder will need therapy—each situation is unique. However, the disorder is usually a temporary condition, and therapy can help shorten its duration. Your doctor may also prescribe you with antidepressants, if your symptoms are interfering with your daily life.
At home, things such as getting exercise and spending time with family and friends may help improve your symptoms as well.
Who typically develops adjustment disorder?
Adjustment disorder can affect anyone. That being said, some age groups are more likely to experience a major life change, so people may be more likely to develop adjustment disorder at certain ages. Moving away to college, losing a parent, having a miscarriage, and getting divorced are all common occurrences that could potentially lead to adjustment disorder. Men and women are both equally likely to develop the condition.
If you suspect you have adjustment disorder, talk to your doctor as soon as possible. The sooner you begin treatment, the sooner you can find relief from your symptoms.
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