Adjustment Disorder is a group of symptoms, such as stress, anxiety, feeling sad or hopeless, that can occur after you go through a stressful life event. The symptoms occur because you are having a hard time coping. These reactions are more severe than would normally be expected. It can have a significant effect on a person’s relationships, work, or academic life. The extended global experience of COVID-19 has worsened various psychological issues from daily stress to trauma and adjustment disorder. When COVID-19 was first reported, no one expected it to be as serious as it turned out and people certainly didn’t expect the effect of the pandemic to last as long. The sudden shutdowns that occurred in the beginning of the pandemic were unpredicted. Most people felt like their normal lives came to a screeching halt. These sudden changes where so unexpected that many people had trouble adjusting. The disruption in people’s normal life routines effected the mental health of many. The unexpected changes combined with the fear and uncertainty that came with COVID-19, has caused many people to develop an adjustment disorder. As with any mental disorder, an adjustment disorder can cause fear, extreme sadness and anxiety.
Adjustment disorder most often is a reaction to unemployment, marital problems/divorce, health issues, etc. The pandemic triggers numerous sets of stressors associated with adjustment disorder, including health and financial problems relating to unemployment, which has made it difficult for people to cope. Furthermore, the pandemic has had a significant effect on people’s social lives due to isolation and social distancing. The number of people experiencing adjustment disorder during the pandemic has increased considerably with people suffering from intense anxiety, depressed mood, and having difficulties focusing on work or school. Signs and symptoms can vary from person to person and usually depends on the type of adjustment disorder. Symptoms usually start within 3 months from the occurrence of the stressful event and last no longer than 6 months. However, persistent or chronic adjustment disorders may last for more than 6 months, especially if the stressors are ongoing.
Psychological reaction to COVID-19 is normal given the circumstances, but it’s important to identify what triggers your stress in order to manage it. Adjustment disorder although temporary can also be draining and may cause serious symptoms. It severely hinders the quality of a person’s life. Most of the pandemic-related stressors are beyond anyone’s control. It’s best to focus on daily routine and cope with smaller challenges to maintain a sense of control over your life.
While there are no guaranteed ways to prevent adjustment disorders, developing healthy coping skills, and building resilience during stressful times may help tremendously. Resilience is not about ignoring or suppressing emotions to stressors but about actively coping; often by individual efforts and from the support of others. Adjustment disorder is temporary and treatable. If professional help is sought in time with healthy lifestyle changes, it could have no lasting effects. If left untreated for a long period, there are higher chances of it turning into something more serious. Seek professional help or take little steps towards helping yourself as these may be the best ways to cope and prevent mental turmoil during these unprecedented times.
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