An adjustment disorder is a way of reacting to stress. An adjustment disorder with depressed mood means that you are more depressed than would be expected after a stressful event.
You may wonder why something is getting to you so much. Or your symptoms may seem unrelated to the event that caused them. It is normal to feel depressed, to cry, or to sulk during times of stress. But if you have an adjustment disorder, you are also less able to socialize or function on the job or at school.
In an adjustment disorder, symptoms occur within about 3 months of something that stresses you. Examples may include moving, changing schools or jobs, the loss of a relationship, or illness in yourself or someone close to you. A happy event like marriage or the birth of a child can also be stressful.
Symptoms of an adjustment disorder with depressed mood include:
Grief after someone dies is not considered a symptom of an adjustment disorder. Depressed symptoms and a short-term decrease in pleasure and the ability to work or socialize are to be expected at such a time.
Depressed feelings on the anniversary of someone's death, a divorce, or other type of major loss can be symptoms of an adjustment disorder. Some people also have this reaction when they reach the same age as someone close to them who died.
Your healthcare provider or a mental health therapist can tell you if you have symptoms of an adjustment disorder. He or she will ask about your symptoms, any other medical problems and any drug or alcohol use. You may have some lab tests to rule out medical problems such as hormone imbalances and heart problems.
You may be suffering depression, a more serious disorder, if your symptoms include:
Adjustment disorders may be treated with psychotherapy, medicine, or both. Some medicines that may be prescribed are antidepressants, antianxiety medicine and sleep medicines. Your healthcare provider will work with you to carefully select the best medicine for you.
Seeing a therapist can help. Support groups are very helpful.
Seek professional help for yourself or a loved one if the symptoms don't go away after a few weeks, if the symptoms get worse, or if the symptoms keep you from being able to function as usual.
Get emergency care if you or a loved one has serious thoughts of suicide, violence, or harming others.
For more information, contact the National Mental Health Association (NMHA). NMHA's toll-free Information Center number is 1-800-969-NMHA. Its Web site address is http://www.NMHA.org.