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Adjustment disorders are a reaction to stress. There is not a single direct cause between the stressful event and the reaction. Children and adolescents vary in their temperament, past experiences, vulnerability, and coping skills. Their developmental stage and the capacity of their support system to meet their specific needs related to the stress are factors that may contribute to their reaction to a particular stress. Stressors also vary in duration, intensity, and effect. No evidence is available to suggest a specific biological factor that causes adjustment disorders.
In all adjustment disorders, the reaction to the stressful event seems to be in excess of a normal reaction, or the reaction significantly interferes with social or educational functioning. There are several subtypes of adjustment disorder that are based on the type of the major symptoms experienced. The following are the most common symptoms of each of the subtypes of adjustment disorder. However, each child and adolescent may experience symptoms differently. The symptoms of adjustment disorders may resemble other medical problems or psychiatric conditions. Always consult your adolescent's physician or mental health professional for an accurate diagnosis.
Adjustment disorder with depressed mood
Adjustment disorder with anxiety
Adjustment disorder with anxiety and depressed mood
Adjustment disorder with disturbance of conduct
Adjustment disorder with mixed disturbance of emotions and conduct
It is unclear why some children and adolescents may develop an adjustment disorder and others do not. However, developing and practicing coping skills, engaging with social supports, healthy eating habits, ensuring adequate sleep, and daily exercise will likely help your child to deal with stressful life events. Furthermore, early detection and intervention can reduce the severity of symptoms, enhance the child’s normal growth and development, and improve the quality of life experienced by those with adjustment disorders.
We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”