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Last Updated on : 01st Oct, 2012

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Adjustment Disorder

What is Adjustment Disorder?

Sometimes youth may develop depressive symptoms after experiencing a stressful event or set of events (e.g., parents' divorce, school failure, break-up with a boyfriend or girlfriend, natural disaster, etc.). Although it is not unusual for children or teens to feel sad, worried, angry, or upset under such circumstances, some youths may experience more distress than might be expected. For example, their unhappiness may cause their grades to drop or their personal relationships to suffer. These children and teens may have a type of depression called Adjustment Disorder, which typically starts within 3 months of a stressful event and lasts no longer than 6 months. If a stressor persists over a long period of time, however, these symptoms may last for a longer period of time.

For specific treatment options, please refer to this table

Example of Adjustment Disorder
Taneesha is a 12 year-old 6th grader whose grandfather died 2 months ago after a prolonged battle with cancer. Taneesha was very close to her grandfather and his death hit her especially hard. Since then, Taneesha's appetite has diminished significantly and she often has trouble sleeping. Her parents frequently complain that she "doesn't listen" and are worried that her attentional difficulties may be related to her grieving. Furthermore, Taneesha has started to spend more and more time alone. When her parents try to encourage her to do something that she previously found enjoyable she often responds, "It just doesn't matter…Nothing will ever be fun again."


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