What Does Adjustment Disorder (DSM IV) Mean?

Many events can happen within your lives, and whether they are expected or unexpected, they can cause serious worry, stress, panic, anxiety, nervousness, sadness and depression. Be it the loss of a job or a loved one passing on, it can be hard to adjust back to your everyday life when traumatic instances prevent you from doing so. This is known as adjustment disorder.

Adjustment Disorder (DSM IV) Diagnostic Criteria

In order for a person to be diagnosed with adjustment disorder, they must meet the criteria set forth by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM IV).
This manual, which was produced by the American Psychiatric Association, is utilized by mental health specialists to properly diagnose conditions, including adjustment disorder, as well as insurance companies, who use it to determine whether their policy holder meets the criteria and can, therefore, be reimbursed for their treatments. The adjustment disorder (DSM IV) diagnostic criteria are as follows:

  • Develop behavioral and/or emotional symptoms up to 3 months after a certain stressor has occurred in your life.
  • Experience elevated levels of stress, or have stress that causes problems in your social and/or family relationships.
  • Symptoms associated with the disorder improve after 6 months of eliminating the stressor.
  • Your symptoms aren't the results of other diagnosis.

6 Diagnosis Results of Adjustment Disorders

According to the DSM IV, the adjustment disorder can be divided into the following 6 types with their diagnostic code:

  • Adjustment Disorder 309.0 – with Depressed Mood: You may feel extremely sad and unable to enjoy activities which once brought you pleasure.
  • Adjustment Disorder 309.24 - with Anxiety: You may have worries, difficulty concentrating and impaired memory. Children with this form of adjustment disorder may hold a strong fear of separation from their parents or guardians.
  • Adjustment Disorder 309.28 – with Mixed Anxiety and Depressed Mood: Symptoms are relatable to what would be experienced with a combination of the above two types.
  • Adjustment Disorder 309.3 – with Disturbance of Conduct: You will notice some behavioral problems, such as fighting or vandalizing properties.
  • Adjustment Disorder 304.4 – with Mixed Disturbance of Emotions and Conduct: Its symptoms include a combination of depression, anxiety and conduct disturbance.
  • Adjustment Disorder 309.9 – Unspecified: Your symptoms do not coincide with the abovementioned 5 types. Symptoms for unspecified adjustment disorder (DSM IV) commonly include issues with friends or family, problems at work or school as well as physical problems.

Symptoms of Adjustment Disorder

If adjustment disorder is caused by a stressor that happened once but is not recurring, then the disorder cannot be classed as chronic (lasting longer than 6 months); otherwise, it could be considered chronic. Symptoms associated with the disorder are detailed below:

1. Emotional Symptoms

Emotional symptoms of this disorder include:

  • Nervousness
  • Anxiety
  • Sadness
  • Hopelessness
  • Desperation
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Feelings of being overwhelmed
  • Suicidal thoughts

2. Behavioral Symptoms

Behavioral symptoms of this condition include:

  • Fighting
  • Vandalizing property
  • Avoiding loved ones or friends
  • Missing work or school
  • Performing poorly at work or school
  • Ignoring bills

When to See a Doctor

In many cases, the symptoms will clear up on their own once the stressful event has passed. If symptoms remain persistent, or if a new stressful condition makes you go through the overwhelming emotional struggle all over again, then it would be best to speak with your doctor.

What Causes Adjustment Disorder?

Research is still undergoing to determine the exact cause of adjustment disorder (DSM IV), as like most mental disorders, the cause is often very complex and hard to comprehend. The disorder can affect anyone regardless of gender and age, and there still remains no clear way of determining how a person will react to a particular stressor. But there are certain factors that can increase your risk of having adjustment disorder:

  • Age: Those young people may have more trouble than adults when dealing with incidents of stress and anguish
  • Short of emotional development
  • Known dislike for life changes
  • Little social skills
  • Other mental health issues
  • Genetics
  • Brain aptitude/intelligence

How to Deal With Adjustment Disorder

There are various ways that can be used to deal with adjustment disorder (DSM IV), including medical and non-medical treatments.

1. Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy can include numerous types of therapies and counseling sessions to help in determining what causes your condition and how to cope with symptoms. Some therapies and counseling options include:

  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Personal therapy
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Stress management therapy

This type of treatment can help tremendously in reasserting your emotional well-being.

2. Medication

Whilst you undergo therapy, your health care provider may also suggest a number of medications which can help relieve your symptoms. As medications only work to relieve the symptoms temporarily, they are rarely used as a sole form of treatment for adjustment disorder. Some medications that you may be offered are:

  • Antidepressants
  • Antianxiety medication
  • Stimulants (if you feel withdrawn)
  • Antipsychotic medications (rare)

Medication will likely only be needed for a number of months or until the symptoms clear. Always speak with your doctor before you discontinue the use of any medication, as some medications can cause adverse withdrawal symptoms when stopped.

3. Home Cares for Adjustment Disorder

There are numerous things you can try by yourself to help relieve any symptoms associated with adjustment disorder. Some of these suggestions may work for you, some may not, but it can't hurt to try.

  • Talking with family, loved ones or friends
  • Seek out a support group
  • Perform regular physical activities
  • Pick up or engage in a hobby that you enjoy
  • Stick to a normal sleeping routine
  • Try eating healthier and more nutritious foods

If you are trying to help someone with the condition, here are some tips to follow:

  • Be understanding and offer support
  • Listen to their problems and offer guidance
  • Offer reassurance consistently
Current time: 04/13/2024 03:54:31 a.m. UTC Memory usage: 65184.0KB