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Henry Kaggwa

Adjustment disorder is a type of mental health issue that is defined by an individual’s inability to cope with an event or stressor in their life. This type of disorder is distinguished from more chronic mental health conditions as it is usually acute. Still, it can result in significant symptoms and impair an individual’s ability to function. Therefore, knowing how long adjustment disorder lasts is important for persons in recovery and their families and friends.

In this blog, we will share the usual course of adjustment disorder, including the time frame of the condition, the factors that might affect it, and the approaches that can help manage and treat it. At the end of it all, you will be in a position to know all that there is to know about this condition and its course.

What is an Adjustment Disorder?

Adjustment disorder is a type of mental health condition that is characterized by a psychological reaction to specific stressors in one’s life. It is identified by the subjective and objective symptoms that are predominantly emotional or behavioral and appear in the first three months following the stressor.

Some of the most frequent causes are separation, loss of a job, a severe disease, or moving to a new area. Symptoms can be quite diverse, though they usually include such feelings as sadness or hopelessness, anxiety, and problems with concentration.

Physical manifestations can also include headaches and gut problems. These symptoms are more severe than the typical signs the stressor elicits and can significantly interfere with one’s capacity to carry out routine tasks. Therefore, identifying these symptoms and knowing their source is the first step in treating adjustment disorder.

How Long Does Adjustment Disorder Last?

A frequently asked question by the affected is, ‘How long does adjustment disorder last?’ Adjustment disorder is usually a short-term condition with symptoms that do not persist beyond six months after the stressor is removed.

The type of stress affects the time it takes to recover. For example, more severe or sustained stressors may require more recovery time.

Personal factors also play a role. If the patient has satisfactory ways of dealing with stress, the duration of the symptoms may be reduced.

Also, the presence of support structures, including family and friends or even professional counseling services, will determine the period of adjustment disorder.

Diagnosis and Management Plans for Adjustment Disorder

To diagnose adjustment disorder, a mental health professional must assess the patient. They will consider the onset and course of the symptoms, confirming that they started during the stressor and do not count for other SMI (severe mental illness).

The management of adjustment disorder is usually by psychotherapy, and the condition is usually very responsive to treatment.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most widely used, in which patients are taught how to manage their stress and change negative ways of thinking.

At times, drugs may be given to control the symptoms of anxiety or depression.

Other preventive measures include changes in daily habits such as exercise, proper diet, and enough rest. Management steps that may also help in recovery include self-care measures such as mindfulness and relaxation.

The right selection of therapies can minimize the period of adjustment disorder and restore the affected persons to normality. Thus, timely treatment and faithful adherence to the outlined treatment plan are critical in managing this condition.

How to Live with Adjustment Disorder?

Coping mechanisms are quite helpful in the treatment of adjustment disorder and the prevention of the disorder from persisting for a long time. Some of the ways through which you can improve the quality of life include,

Turning to family and friends can help you get emotional support and help with daily tasks.

Therapists or counselors provide a professional service in therapy where you can schedule appointments for help.

You should ensure you share your feelings and difficulties with others you can trust.

Some good habits for the body include regular exercise, observing proper diet, getting enough sleep, and engaging in activities such as yoga or meditation.

Interests and recreational pursuits are also effective ways of escaping the sources of stress in one’s life. These strategies not only assist in reducing the intensity of symptoms but also prepare you to handle future stressors, thus reducing the duration of adjustment disorder.

Why is Professional Help Important?

Help is a relative term, as some may need professional help while others can sort issues out on their own. The following are the signs that you desperately need professional advice.

If symptoms last more than a week or two and begin to affect your ability to work, it is advisable to see a psychiatrist. Some other signs that you need help include hopelessness, severe anxiety, or thoughts of self-harm.

The consequences of adjustment disorder, if not treated, include major depressive disorder or anxiety disorders. It means that only a professional can give the needed tools and guidance to cope with the disorder.


Adjustment disorder is a brief but complicated condition that manifests as a reaction to stressors. It is crucial to know the period of adjustment disorders and possible variables affecting them to set the right expectations and approach to treatment. With the help of adequate support, effective problem-solving methods, and the help of professionals, it is possible to overcome the disorder and return to a normal level of functioning.

If you or someone you know is in this situation, do not hesitate to ask for help. Treating the problem while it is still in its early stages is crucial because this will greatly influence the recovery process.

Herny Kaggwa
Written and reviewed by: Herny Kaggwa
PMHNP-BC, APRN. Clinical Director
Assured Hope Community Health. LLC
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