Yes, it’s true. I’ve suffered from an adjustment disorder, a.k.a a stress response syndrome. Now you might be asking: what the hell does that mean? An adjustment disorder as according to the Mayo clinic is when “an individual experiences more stress than would normally be expected in response to a stressful or unexpected event, and the stress causes significant problems in your relationships, at work or at school.” Events such as divorce, medical illness, having a baby, moving away, or starting school are all possible triggers for such a disorder. Adjustment disorders arise usually three months after the original trigger and usually only last approximately six months.
Adjustment disorders present differently in everyone and can usually be broken up into one of six different types: with depressed mood, with anxiety, with mixed anxiety and depressive moods, with disturbance of conduct (behavior), with mixed disturbance of emotion and conduct, and with unspecified symptoms. While no one version fits one person perfectly, symptoms are usually a combination of all types. Most often people present more strongly with a particular set of symptoms. In my case, I most closely identified with the anxiety type, typically characterized by symptoms such as “nervousness, worry, difficulty concentrating or remembering things, and feeling overwhelmed.” (Mayo Clinic, 2017). For me, this also meant a complete loss of identity to an extent that is far more complicated than I could have ever imagined. Bear in mind that my case is one of many, and each individual experiences their own trauma and symptoms.
So what is the treatment for adjustment disorders? Unlike a lot of commonly known psychological issues, adjustment disorders typically are resolved within six month of the onset of symptoms, though in some cases they can extend beyond six months. However, having a timeline does not mean that this is something that will always resolve by itself. Often, a professional is needed to identify what is actually going on, as well as the trigger and the symptoms. While large adjustments in life can never be avoided, better coping mechanisms are learned behaviors. Often, adjustment disorders can occur in people who face change regularly, but for some odd reason have been pushed too far this time. For most, this causes a lot of confusion and necessitates the need for professional help and knowledge. Regular therapy sessions help a large deal, and, if need be, medications can be prescribed to cope with the onset of symptoms. With help and time, a vast majority of people make a full recovery.
No matter the case or the individua,l it’s crucial to know that you are not alone. There is never one singular person who is experiencing something that can’t be shared. At the end of the day, knowing that there are others like you and that you can get help brings a sense of normalcy and strength.
If you or a loved one is in need of help, here are some resources to help:
National Alliance on Mental Health Helpline: 1-800-950-NAMI or text NAMI to 741741.
University of Utah Crisis line: 801-587-3000
University of Utah Warm Line, for those who are not in crisis but need support: 801-587-1055
- Suicide Hotline (1-800-273-8255).
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