In recent years, disasters and tragedies seem to be everyday occurrences. From massive hurricanes to deadly shootings, the onslaught has many discussing the mental health of individuals experiencing major upheaval in their lives. After a particularly stressful life event, it is normal for individuals to experience periods of sadness, uncertainty, or loss. In some people, these reactions begin to spiral out of control, and they have difficulty coping or accepting the situation.
A reaction becomes a mental illness when a person experiences a significant change in thinking, behavior, or emotion that affects their everyday life. When a response to a life event is drastically damaging to a person’s daily routine or relationships, they may be experiencing adjustment disorder/stress response syndrome. While an adjustment disorder can be frightening, it is short-term and easily treatable.
What is Adjustment Disorder/Stress Response Syndrome?
Adjustment disorder is an abnormally intense response to a life event. It is a severe, short-term condition that prevents an individual from coping healthily with a significant life change. In 2013, the most recent update of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the DSM-5, changed the official name of adjustment disorder to stress response syndrome. However, many use the two interchangeably and sometimes also refer to the disease as situational depression.
Adjustment disorder is pervasive and affects a wide range of people. It can occur at any point in the life cycle and especially during periods of upheaval or transition. Additionally, adjustment disorder is a significant issue after deadly disasters and tragedies.