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What Is the Treatment for Adjustment Disorder?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
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The first line treatment for adjustment disorder is psychotherapy, paired with medications for some patients to help them manage their symptoms more effectively. This mental health disorder occurs when people experience extreme reactions to stresses like major life changes. Someone preparing for a move, for example, might develop high anxiety and could experience problems with daily functioning, like a fear of getting out of bed in the morning. The goal of treatment for adjustment disorder is to help the patient adjust to the change in a healthy way, and to provide coping tips to prevent future episodes.

Psychotherapy is a critical aspect of treatment for adjustment disorder. Patients can meet with a therapist alone and in group sessions. Some find it helpful to join support groups. The therapy can include immediate crisis counseling to help patients who experience mental health crises, as well as more long-term therapy to address anxiety and stress. There are many approaches to psychotherapy, and patients may need to try several therapists before they can find one they feel comfortable with in sessions.

It can help to meet several practitioners before picking one, to learn about different working styles and approaches to therapy while also getting a feel for interactions with therapists. Every patient is different, and people can respond to treatment in radically different ways. A patient who feels uncomfortable with a care provider may not experience progress in psychotherapy, because the discomfort can create tension.

In addition to psychotherapy, some patients require medication as part of the treatment for adjustment disorder. Medication alone will not resolve the issue, but can help patients with acute anxiety and depression while they receive treatment. Several kinds of drugs are an option, and it may be necessary to tweak medications and dosages to find a regimen that works for a patient. As the patient goes through psychotherapy and gets the condition under control, it may be possible to go off medications.

Patients undergoing treatment for adjustment disorder can also benefit from support through friends and family. People can attend a session with a counselor to learn more about how they can help the patient, and brochures are also available with general education. Part of therapy can also include the provision of tools for a patient to educate people and ask for help, as self-advocacy can help patients feel like they are taking control of the condition and their lives.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
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