Adjustment Disorder (AD) is also known as AD reactive, or situational depression. It occurs when an individual is unable to adapt to or cope with specific stress or a major life event. People with AD normally have symptoms that depressed people do, such as a general loss of interest, feelings of hopelessness and crying.

Unlike depression, Adjustment Disorder is caused by an outside stressor and generally resolves itself when an individual is able to adapt to the situation. Common characteristics of AD include mild depression, anxiety, and traumatic stress symptoms; or a combination of all three.

Diagnosis of AD is quite common. Women are diagnosed twice as frequently as are men. Among children and teenagers, girls and boys are equally likely to receive this diagnosis.

Symptoms of Adjustment Disorder include;

  • Worry
  • Lack of enjoyment
  • Crying spells
  • Nervousness
  • Anxiety
  • Desperation
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Avoiding family or friends
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling overwhelmed and thoughts of suicide
  • Reckless driving
  • Ignoring important tasks such as bills or homework
  • Performing poorly in school/work
  • Skipping school/work


AD Risk factors

Various factors that have been found to be more associated with a diagnosis of AD include:

  • younger age;
  • more identified psychosocial and environmental problems;
  • increased suicidal behaviour, more likely to be rated as improved by the time of discharge from mental healthcare;
  • less frequent previous psychiatric history;
  • a shorter length of treatment.


Age can be a factor due to young children having fewer coping resources; children are also less likely to assess the consequences of a potential stressors. A stressor is generally an event of a serious, unusual nature that an individual or group of individuals experience.

The stressors that cause adjustment disorders may be grossly traumatic or relatively minor, like loss of a girlfriend/boyfriend, a poor report card, or moving to a new neighbourhood. It is thought that the more chronic or recurrent the stressor, the more likely it is to produce a disorder. There are certain stressors that are more common in different age groups.


Treatment of Adjustment Disorder in Thailand

The treatment of adjustment disorder is primarily psychotherapy. The goal of psychotherapy is relief and behaviour change. Anxiety may be presented as “a signal from the body” that something in the person’s life needs to change.

Treatment allows the patient to put their distress  into words rather than into destructive actions. Counselling, psychotherapy, crisis intervention, family therapy, behavioural therapy and self-help group treatment are often used to encourage the verbalisation of fears, anxiety, rage, helplessness, and hopelessness.