Adjustment Disorders

Adjustment disorders are emotional or behavioral reactions to stressful changes and events in a person’s life. They are most common in children and affect behavior, learning, and ability to make friends. Anyone can experience an adjustment disorder, but they are more likely in people with ADHD.

The exact cause of adjustment disorders is still unknown, although experts believe they are caused by a combination of genetics, mental health disorders, and environmental factors. Temperament varies in children and adolescents, and these disorders are equally common in boys and girls. Characteristics of adjustment disorders are often different in children and adults.

In adjustment disorders, reactions to a stressor are excessive compared to what is expected in a similar situation. These reactions often interfere with social and educational interactions and can vary in duration. Examples include impulsivity, excessive talking, not playing with others, distraction, trouble waiting, and not completing tasks or assignments. In adults, symptoms are more closely related to depression or anxiety.

Most people with adjustment disorders benefit from a combination of medications, therapy, and counseling. In children and adolescents, a team approach between parents, teachers, counselors, and physicians works well in managing symptoms and other conditions such as ADHD.