Although the cause of adjustment disorders is unknown, some things make you more likely to have an adjustment disorder. Among children and teenagers, both boys and girls have about the same chance of having adjustment disorders. Among adults, women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with adjustment disorders.
One or more stressful life events may put you at risk of developing an adjustment disorder. It may involve almost any type of stressful event in your life. Both positive and negative events can cause extreme stress. Some common examples include:
- Being diagnosed with a serious illness
- Problems in school
- Divorce or relationship breakup
- Job loss
- Having a baby
- Financial problems
- Physical assault
- Surviving a disaster
- Death of a loved one
- Going away to school
In some cases, people who face an ongoing stressful situation — such as living in a crime-ridden neighborhood — can reach a breaking point and develop an adjustment disorder.
Your life experiences
If you generally don't cope well with change or you don't have a strong support system, you may be more likely to have an extreme reaction to a stressful event.
Your risk of an adjustment disorder may be higher if you experienced stress in early childhood. Overprotective or abusive parenting, family disruptions, and frequent moves early in life may make you feel like you're unable to control events in your life. When difficulties then arise, you may have trouble coping.
Other risk factors may include:
April 02, 2014
- Other mental health problems
- Exposure to wars or violence
- Difficult life circumstances
- Adjustment disorders. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-5. 5th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2013. http://www.psychiatryonline.com. Accessed Oct. 20, 2013.
- Hales RE, et al. The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Psychiatry. 5th ed. Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Publishing; 2008. http://www.psychiatryonline.com/resourceToc.aspx?resourceID=5. Accessed Oct. 20, 2013.
- Casey P. Adjustment disorder: Epidemiology, diagnosis and treatment. CNS Drugs. 2009;23:927. Accessed Oct. 20, 2013.
- Strain J, et al. Considering adjustment disorders as stress response syndromes for DSM-5. Depression and Anxiety. 2011;28:818. Accessed Oct. 20, 2013.
- Hall-Flavin DK (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Oct. 30, 2013.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ Accessed Oct. 24, 2013.
- Kung S (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Oct. 30, 2013.
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