Adjustment Disorder Symptoms: Understanding the Most Common Signs and Symptoms

Adjustment disorder (AD) is a mental health condition that occurs when someone has a difficult time adapting to a stressful or life-changing event. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), AD is a stress-related disorder that can cause emotional and physical symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and trouble sleeping.

Some people may experience only one or two symptoms, while others may experience several symptoms simultaneously. In this article, we will discuss the most common adjustment disorder symptoms and how to recognize them.

What Causes Adjustment Disorder?

Adjustment disorder can be caused by a variety of life-changing events, including:

  • Financial problems
  • Relationship issues
  • Chronic illness or pain
  • Death of a loved one
  • Retirement or loss of employment
  • Moving to a new location or school

While these events can cause stress and anxiety, most people are able to cope and adjust within a reasonable amount of time. However, individuals with AD may have difficulty adapting, which can lead to emotional and physical symptoms.

Common Symptoms of Adjustment Disorder

The symptoms of adjustment disorder can vary depending on the individual and the stressful event. However, the most common symptoms include:


Anxiety is a feeling of unease or worry that can be mild or severe. Individuals with AD may feel anxious about the future, even if there is no immediate danger. They may also experience physical symptoms such as sweating, rapid heartbeat, and trembling.


Depression is a mood disorder that can cause feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness. Individuals with AD may feel overwhelmed and unable to cope with their situation. They may have difficulty sleeping, eating, and engaging in daily activities.

Anger or Irritability

Some individuals with AD may feel angry or irritable due to their situation. They may lash out at others or become easily frustrated.


Individuals with AD may withdraw from family, friends, and activities they once enjoyed. They may feel like they are unable to connect with others and may isolate themselves.

Physical Symptoms

AD can cause physical symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches, and other pains. These symptoms may be caused by stress or anxiety and can be difficult to alleviate without appropriate treatment.

Treatment for Adjustment Disorder

Individuals with AD may benefit from psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of both. The most common form of therapy for AD is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which helps individuals identify negative thoughts and behaviors and replace them with positive ones.

Medications, such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications, may also be helpful in treating AD. However, medication should be used in conjunction with therapy and under the guidance of a medical professional.

In addition to therapy and medication, self-care practices such as exercise, meditation, and relaxation techniques can help reduce stress and improve overall well-being.

Final Thoughts

Adjustment disorder can be a difficult and stressful condition to manage. However, with the help of a medical professional and appropriate treatment, individuals with AD can learn to better cope with life’s challenges and improve their overall quality of life. If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of AD, do not hesitate to seek help from a medical or mental health professional.


FAQs about Adjustment Disorder Symptoms

What are the common symptoms of Adjustment Disorder?

Adjustment Disorder symptoms can vary widely depending on the individual, but common symptoms include mood swings, overwhelming stress, anxiety, and feelings of hopelessness. Individuals may also experience physical symptoms such as headaches, nausea, and fatigue.

Is Adjustment Disorder the same as depression?

No, Adjustment Disorder is not the same as depression. While depression often stems from an imbalance in brain chemistry, Adjustment Disorder is a stress-related disorder that occurs when an individual is struggling to adapt to a challenging situation, such as a major life change or traumatic event.

Can Adjustment Disorder be treated?

Yes, Adjustment Disorder can be treated. Treatment often involves psychotherapy or talk therapy, where individuals work with a mental health professional to develop healthy coping mechanisms and strategies for managing stress. In some cases, medication may also be prescribed to help manage symptoms. With treatment and support, individuals with Adjustment Disorder can go on to lead happy and healthy lives.


1. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.

2. Breslau, N., Andreski, P., & Miller, E. (1998). Psychiatric disorders and stages of migration in an epidemiologic sample of young adults. American Journal of Public Health, 88(5), 812-816.

3. Casey, P., & Romano, E. (2010). Diagnosis and treatment of adjustment disorder. American Family Physician, 82(11), 1395-1400. Retrieved from