How to Know if You’re Experiencing Adjustment Disorder

There’s a saying that goes, “The only thing constant in life is change.” And it can sometimes feel overwhelmingly true. Whether you’re switching jobs, moving, starting a romantic relationship or just going through a personal journey, life is always presenting you with new experiences and events. And they don’t always affect you the same way: Some changes bring happiness and excitement, while others can cause you stress.

But while feeling some anxiety about a change is completely normal, if you notice that it isn’t going away, you might have something called adjustment disorder. This is a condition that occurs when someone is struggling or unable to cope with certain experiences or changes. There are a number of events that can cause this disorder to surface, like a major life change, survival of a traumatic experience or the death of a loved one to name a few. Adjustment disorder has a variety of mental and physical symptoms, including:

  • Defiant or impulsive behavior
  • Feelings of sadness or hopelessness
  • Anxiety
  • Changes in appetite
  • Insomnia

These symptoms usually begin within three months of the major change and can last for up to six months. If you think you may be experiencing symptoms of adjustment disorder, there are a few things you can do:

  • Be open with your family and friends about the emotions you’re feeling.
  • Establish healthy routines, including regular exercise.
  • Create a daily habit that promotes your positive well-being and lines up with the things you love to do, like journaling, cooking or reading.

Lastly, but most importantly, have an honest discussion with your physician about what you’re going through. Your physician can connect you with specialists and resources to help you manage this disorder. They also might give you a physical exam, inquire about your medical background and take additional tests to make sure your symptoms aren’t linked to another serious issue.

Photo Credit: Sodanie Chea

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