- Adjustment Disorders
- Identity Issues
Adjustment and Identity Issues are two specialties of Whole Body Psychiatry, both of which can impact how you relate to the world. Below’s we’ll break down the specifics of the two, as well as how Psychiatry and Therapy can help.
What Is An Adjustment Disorder?
Broken down into simple terms, an adjustment disorder is a pattern of extreme or unhealthy emotional or behavioral reactions to a stressful event or a significant change in someone’s life.
Most often, adjustment disorders are diagnosed in children and adolescents, but adjustment disorders can affect adults as well.
In children, stressful events of life changes may include a parents’ separation or divorce, the birth of a sibling, the loss of a pet, a sudden illness, or a significant move can result in a disordered adjustment response.
What causes adjustment disorders? What makes one person more at risk for an adjustment disorder than another?
Adjustment disorders occur in reaction to an event – that being said, there is no single direct cause between the event and the reaction.
Everyone is different, and varies in terms of coping skills, temperament, and vulnerability. Factors like stressors from the environment, past experiences, and someone’s ability to cope with stress all play a part in the occurrence of adjustment disorders as well.
Adjustment disorders happen equally in males and females, and while they exist across all cultures, the signs or stressors may vary.
What are some of the symptoms of adjustment disorders?
Across all adjustment disorders, reactions to stressors or events are excessive compared to what is seen as “average” or “normal”. These reactions significantly interfere with someone’s social, emotional, professional, and/or physical health.
There are differences in the symptoms experienced, the duration and strength of the symptoms, and what effect they have between adults and children/adolescents with adjustment disorders.
Adolescents and children with adjustment disorders typically display more behavioral reactions, such as acting out. Adults with adjustment disorders typically exhibit more emotional reactions and depressive symptoms.
Symptoms of adjustment disorders may look like other medical or psychiatric problems, but be sure to speak with a licensed mental health care provider for a diagnosis.
What are some of the subtypes of adjustment disorders?
You can break down adjustment disorders into six subtypes based on the major symptom experienced. However, it is important to remember that everyone experiences symptoms differently, and this is not a checklist.
- Adjustment Disorder with Depressed Mood – symptoms may include depressed mood, feelings of hopelessness, and tearfulness.
- Adjustment Disorder with Anxiety – symptoms may include feeling nervous, worrisome, and jittery. May have a fear of separation from attachment figures.
- Adjustment Disorder with Anxiety and Depressed Mood – symptoms may include a combination from both above categories.
- Adjustment Disorder with Disturbance of Conduct – symptoms include a violation of social rules, norms, or expectations, or a violation of the rights of others.
- Adjustment Disorder with Mixed Disturbance of Emotions and Conduct – Symptoms may include a combination of all of the above categories.
- Adjustment Disorder Unspecified – There are certain reactions to stressful events that don’t fit into one of the above categories. These reactions may withdrawal from or avoidance of normal activities or social interactions.
How are adjustment disorders treated?
Treatment for adjustment disorders is personalized to the individual. Factors like age, health, and medical history, as well as the extent of the symptoms, and subtype are all taken into consideration. Common treatments for adjustment disorders include:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Family Therapy
- Peer Group Therapy
Psychotherapy is a safe place for those struggling with adjustment disorders to explore their feelings and learn tools and techniques on how to handle their strong emotions and reactions.
What is Identity?
All of us grapple with the existential questions of “who am I?”, “who do I want to be?”, and “who am I supposed to be?”. The answers are complex and often seemingly just out of reach, but the answers to these questions form our identity.
Our identity is made up of so many different factors, both internal and external. Identity involves the way that you feel about yourself, the relationships you have with others, and also things you have little to no control over, like your height, your race, or the socioeconomic class you were born into.
Our identity also includes things like our morals, religious beliefs, and political opinions. All of these things influence our daily choices and actions.
How is identity formed?
A lot of our identity is formed in childhood, influenced by parents and peers. Adolescence is a largely significant period for forming identity, but our identity can change and evolve over the course of our life, as events and experiences continue to shape who we are.
You can think of the search for identity in three parts – discovering and then developing your potential, picking your purpose, and finally using that potential or purpose in the real world.
Developing an identity, or a sense of one’s self is a key part of growing up and maturing. Struggling with various parts of our identity is normal, and occurs naturally throughout life. It’s possible to shape your identity into who you want it to be, but it can take time and may be difficult.
What are some normal struggles with identity?
Someone who is overly concerned with the way they appear to others can struggle with parts of their identity. This feeling of a weak sense of self can lead to feelings of insecurity and anxiety.
There are certain mental health conditions that can cause a distorted sense of self. For example, someone experiencing depression may falsely believe they are unlovable, or worthless. Someone experiencing codependency might depend on the opinions of others to form their identity or sense of self.
How can therapy help with issues of identity?
Struggling with issues of identity can lead to feelings of hopelessness, anxiety, depression, and more. Therapy offers a safe space for you to freely discuss your feelings about and issues with identity.
Therapy is a great place to learn tools to help reduce symptoms, find ways to cope, and ultimately find your true self along the way.