According to DSM-IV; adjustment disorders are symptoms (changes in emotional state or behaviors) that arise in response to an identified psychosocial stressor that is out of proportion to what is expected in usual human experience.
Adjustment disorder is not diagnosed if the symptoms occurred in response to a psychosocial stressor so severe that an individual meets criteria for another axis I disorder (e.g., major depression). Symptoms in response to bereavement do not meet criteria for the diagnosis of adjust
ment disorder. Adjustment disorders occur within 3 months of the identified stressor and usually resolve within 6 months, unless the stressor becomes chronic.
Revision date: June 20, 2011
Last revised: by Sebastian Scheller, MD, ScD