Mental Health Expert’s Tip of the Month – September

What is Adjustment Disorder?

Adjustment disorder is a short-term diagnosis given when people are having difficulty adjusting to something new in their lives.

Symptoms include:

• the development of behavioral or emotional distress beyond what would be an expected response
• these symptoms will cause significant impairment in daily functioning either socially or occupationally.

Most of the time Adjustment Disorder is accompanied by symptoms of depression including:
• Tearfulness
• Feelings of hopelessness
• Lack of interest in activities that normally would enthuse
• Pervasive feelings of sadness

Or symptoms of anxiety:
• Nervousness
• Excessive worry or fear of the unknown
• Jitteriness
• Obsessive thoughts of doubt

The main difference between an episode of depression or anxiety and adjustment disorder is the symptoms appear within 3 months of the onset of the stressor. If you are feeling any of these symptoms you may be experiencing difficulty transitioning and adjusting to your new life either on campus or to life on your own in the “real world.”

What to do?

Acknowledge that you are in between stages in your life, focus on the successes you have had, your positive qualities and accomplishments (getting accepted to college or graduating from college to name just two), talk with a trusted friend, professor or counselor, work on envisioning your new identity and who you want to be in your stage of life while also giving yourself a grace period for achieving that vision- you can only be where you are at any given moment. Most of all, give yourself a break and give yourself time.

~Hilary Silver, LCSW
Mental Health Expert, Campus Calm

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