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Preventing Adjustment Issues from Snowballing

Preventing Adjustment Issues from Snowballing


Preventing Adjustment Issues from Snowballing


High school can be the most unforgettable time of your life or your child’s. Having young children under your wing, though taxing, can be the best time of parenthood. Your honeymoon can be the most carefree and romantic time in your marriage.  However, no matter how fun and good life is, things have to change. “Nothing lasts forever.”  Moving on is the natural way. This goes for life in general.

Moving past milestones and through life transitions can help your perspective to evolve. It can make you more self-reliant and independent. It can lead to self-discovery. There are advantages, if you adjust well and fast enough, even though it can be scary.

The truth is that adaptation is an intrinsic biological ability. That ability, however, can be overwhelmed by traumatic and negative events in life. The inability to adapt to the challenges brought about by a life transition or change is sometimes called an adjustment disorder.


Fear of Change Is Natural

A young high school graduate may cringe at the mere thought of entering college, working, or traveling, due to fear of change. While moving on follows the logical and natural flow of things, it doesn’t change the fact that it can be daunting to leave the safe environment that you were cocooned in for your entire young life. Moving on into adulthood means having more responsibilities and not having a mom to wake you up, prep your meals, or pick you up from school.

It is okay to worry. Though young people have done the same things for eons and succeeded, some need more time to adjust. If the reason for the difficulty is an adjustment disorder, it is important to be in touch with your emotions to overcome it. If you are proactive, you can skip the difficult part of the adjustment by seeking the help of a qualified therapist.


Introducing Adjustment Disorders

What should you know about adjustment disorders?

According to Healthline, “Adjustment disorders are a group of conditions that can occur when you have difficulty coping with a stressful life event.” These life-changing events can include the passing away of a loved one, the failing of a marriage or relationship, or the loss of a principal source of income.

WebMD says that “a person with an adjustment disorder/stress response syndrome develops emotional and/or behavioral symptoms as a reaction to a stressful event.” These symptoms may start to manifest in about three months, and seldom last beyond six months after the triggering event. Nonetheless, without treatment, it is possible for the symptoms to persist.


Psychology Today offers some basic facts that highlight what you should know about these conditions:

  • “An adjustment disorder is a temporary condition caused by stress.” Though it is a transient condition, the symptoms can be excessive, and can interrupt your work-related, social, or school functioning. The life-changing stressful event could be a sudden single event, a recurring stressor, or multiple events.
  • “Adjustment disorders are a group of conditions that can occur when you have difficulty coping with a stressful life event.” A traumatic or life-changing event can trigger an adjustment disorder. Specifically, there are six types of adjustment disorders: (1) adjustment disorder with depressed mood; (2) adjustment disorder with anxiety; (3) adjustment disorder with mixed anxiety and depressed mood; (4) adjustment disorder with disturbance of conduct; (5) adjustment disorder with mixed disturbance of emotions and conduct; and (6) adjustment disorder unspecified. Each of these manifests with symptoms that are non-specific. Thus, professional help must be sought for assessment and treatment.
  • “Adjustment disorders are most often treated with therapy, medication, or a combination of both.” Therapy and medication work in different ways, but with similar goals—to ease the symptoms and improve or restore your normal functionality. Generally, it is more practical and easier, in a number of ways, to start with therapy. Taking medications or seeing a psychiatrist is usually considered a “safety net” if therapy needs to be supported.


Is This You? Signs and Symptoms

There is no way of telling who can be affected by an adjustment disorder. It can happen to anyone who has to live with a harrowing experience or a challenging change. Those who are likely to cope better with such challenges are more resilient, have more adaptive social skills, and know ways to adjust in a healthy way.

There are certain symptoms that are associated with adjustment disorders; they can be emotional/psychological or physical. Some of the emotional/psychological manifestations could be maladaptive reactions, such as withdrawn and disturbing behaviors, impulsivity, and unruly behavior. The symptoms may also be akin to those of other emotional conditions, including anxiety and depression.

Physical symptoms are also associated with a certain type of adjustment disorder. These symptoms could include sleeplessness, lethargy, trembling or twitching of muscles, throbbing pain, and indigestion.

The symptoms may also persist beyond six months, when there are complications. Mayo Clinic describes this as “chronic adjustment disorder.” The condition is more severe and “marked by behavioral problems.” Some of the risk factors include another emotional or psychological condition, another adjustment disorder, a chronic medical ailment, a substance abuse problem, or an unusually difficult life circumstance.


The Long-Term Outlook: Getting There

Though the symptoms of adjustment disorders can have far-reaching effects, most sufferers recover from them fairly quickly. The long-term outlook is quite good, provided you get the symptoms properly assessed and treated. Like any emotional condition, it has a psychological root, which can make the condition more persistent and the symptoms more intense or complicated.

Because nobody can escape changes and transitions, you may wonder if you can prevent the impairment of your ability to adjust. One thing is certain: challenges can arise anytime. While avoiding challenges is not possible, you can stop them from overwhelming you by developing resilience and getting the right help.

The American Psychological Association defines resilience as “the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress … Research has shown that resilience is ordinary, not extraordinary.” This means it is something that is humanly attainable and that you can achieve.


Fast-Track Resilience with a Therapist

Changes, life transitions, and adversity are all part of living. Trying to prevent them is like asking the sun not to rise tomorrow or to set in the east instead—it can’t be done. The proactive thing to do is to develop resilience.

While resilience can’t stop adversity, it can help you respond well to it. Resilience can’t guarantee that you will be adjustment-disorder-free for life, but it gives you the assurance that you can maintain a positive attitude in the midst of trials. While resilience is not the end-all and be-all of your defenses, it can fortify your overall outlook, the power that sustains your strength.  

The impact of an adjustment disorder can’t be underestimated: it can topple what you have steadily built through the years. To protect yourself and your loved ones, don’t let the condition persist longer that it should or snowball into monstrous consequences. Fast-track your resilience with the help of a therapist or counselor independently contracted with Carolina Counseling Services Pinehurst, NC.

Do you want a life that’s well guarded against adversity? Preparing isn’t a bad idea at all, and we at Carolina Counseling Services Pinehurst, NC, can help you with that. “Forewarned is forearmed.” If you want to keep your life on course, don’t be sidetracked by issues and challenges. Begin now.  Maintain your healthy level of functioning while strengthening your resilience. Call now for your appointment.


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Serving Areas: Carolina Counseling Services – Pinehurst, NC

Counties: Moore county, NC, Lee County, Hoke County, Chatham County

Areas: Pinehurst NC, West End NC, Taylortown NC, Seven Lakes NC, Eagle Springs NC, Jackson Springs NC, Foxfire NC, Candor NC, Norman NC, Ellerbe NC, Rockingham NC

Zip Codes: 27281, 27376, 28315, 28347, 28350, 28373, 28374, 28387, 28388, 28394

Kelly ErkenBrack, LCSW

Specializes in: (Ages 3+) Children, Teens, Adults, Couples and Families. Anxiety, Depression, Grief and Loss, Mood Disorders, Trauma, Adjustments and Life Transitions, ADHD, Behavioral Issues, Parenting, Relationship Concerns, Self Esteem
Insurance: BCBSTricare Prime/Select, Medicare and Cash
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Location: Pinehurst, NC

Robin Caswell, MSW, LCSW

Specializes in: (Ages 5+), Individuals, Adults, Anxiety, Depression, Grief, Loss, ADHD, ODD, Trauma/PTSD, LGBTQ, Self-Harm, Military Family Life, Mood Disorders, OCD, Phobias
Insurance: BCBS, Tricare, Medicare and Cash
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Location: Pinehurst, NC

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