What’s the difference between normal stress and an adjustment disorder?
Answer From Daniel K. Hall-Flavin, M.D.
Stress is a normal psychological and physical reaction to positive or negative situations in your life, such as a new job or the death of a loved one. Stress itself isn’t abnormal or bad. What’s important is how you deal with stress.
When you have so much trouble adjusting to a stressful change that you find it difficult to go about your daily routine, you may have developed an adjustment disorder. An adjustment disorder is a type of stress-related mental illness that can affect your feelings, thoughts, and behaviors.
Signs and symptoms of an adjustment disorder can include:
- Poor school or work performance
- Relationship problems
- Thoughts of suicide
- Trouble sleeping
If you’re dealing with a stressful situation in your life, try self-help measures, such as talking things over with caring family or friends, practicing yoga or meditation, getting regular exercise, and cutting back on your to-do list. If these techniques don’t help and you feel like you’re still having a hard time coping, talk to your doctor.
Publication Date: 2015-12-30