Adjustment disorder is a type of mental illness that may appear shortly after a stressful event, such as divorce, job loss or a loved one's death. While some sadness after such events is often normal, those with adjustment disorder may exhibit depression for several months, eventually negatively affecting several aspects of their life. Common emotional symptoms of adjustment disorder tend to include anxiety, hopelessness and general sadness. These feelings may make it hard to sleep or concentrate, and other physical symptoms may show up, too, including heart palpitations and twitches. Additionally, some other signs of adjustment disorder may include a loss of interest in both responsibilities and hobbies, along with a tendency to act out by breaking the law.
Some of the most common symptoms of adjustment disorder include emotional responses stemming from a stressful or devastating event. For example, many sufferers feel sad and hopeless and may find it hard to get excited over normally happy things. Anxiety and feelings of desperation may show up, leading to frequent crying spells and even suicidal thoughts. Many people with the emotional symptoms of adjustment disorder find it hard to concentrate, because they often feel overwhelmed with life in general, even when it comes to simple tasks. Insomnia may occur as a result, which often compounds the problem.
These emotional symptoms often lead to physical problems for those suffering from adjustment disorder. Some patients begin trembling or twitching uncontrollably as a result of long-term anxiety. They also may have heart palpitations, in which their heart suddenly starts racing or skipping beats. Of course, the insomnia and constant depression tend to take a toll on the body eventually, often making patients feel fatigued and unmotivated. Headaches, stomach pain and loss of appetite also may occur as a result of the anxiety that many patients feel.
Many symptoms of adjustment disorder affect more than just patients, and some signs soon become obvious to others. Patients tend to stop paying their bills and start avoiding contact with friends and family, because they are often preoccupied with their grief and anxiety. They also may act out in negative ways, often through illegal activities that may include starting fights, driving recklessly or destroying property. Poor performance and absenteeism at either school or work also are common symptoms of adjustment disorder. This type of behavior is likely a result of the reduced capacity to concentrate and the inability to care much about such responsibilities.