Teen Adjustment Disorder

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It’s not easy being a teen.

It’s a time of upheaval, a time when interests, friendships and relationships suddenly change. Combine that with a body which frequently seems to be rebelling, it’s a tough minefield for anyone to go through. For some people, the changes – especially if they’re traumatic, like the death of a friend or a loved one – can be too much to bear, leading to behaviors which are depressive or self-harming. This is called adjustment disorder (AD), a stress-related mental disorder.

Every teen worries about change. It’s normal, and the kind of emotional disruption caused by major life changes – a new school, a new parent, the death of a friend – are perfectly normal.

That’s part of the reason AD can be a challenge to diagnose in a teen, much like many other mood disorders.

Unlike normal stress and anxiety, however, AD includes a variety of harmful behavioral problems, disrupting school and home life. When combined with the depressive and anxious symptoms it also causes, AD is a serious psychiatric disorder which benefits from professional adjustment disorder treatment.

Typically, AD isn’t a long-lasting disorder; Mayo Clinic reports the acute form of the disorder lasts six months or less once the source of stress is removed. However, there’s also a chronic form where AD’s symptoms last for longer than six months.

There are multiple types of adjustment disorder. AD can occur with depressed and anxious moods – or with both. Conduct disorder is often a feature of AD as well. Teens with this variety of AD may engage in aggressive behavior, such as starting fights in school, or they may engage in reckless behavior by experimenting with drugs and alcohol or driving recklessly. Other types of AD combine depression, anxiety and behavioral problems.

Symptoms of Teen Adjustment Disorder

  • Anxiety, particularly separation anxiety
  • Worries
  • Sleeping problems
  • Difficulties with concentration
  • Feelings of sadness, hopelessness and nervousness

Red Flags of Teen Adjustment Disorder

  • Aggressive behavior such as fighting
  • Crying jags
  • Reckless behavior
  • Vandalism
  • Poor performance in school and/or truancy

Who Gets Teen Adjustment Disorder?

AD can develop in children, teens and adults alike. As is the case with other mood disorders, researchers aren’t sure of AD’s exact cause. However, there are a combination of factors which can contribute to AD’s development.

Obviously, stressful events themselves play a very large role in the disorder. A divorce, a family move, the death of a loved friend or parent and adjusting to a new school can all trigger AD. Adolescents who live in stressful environments – a high-crime neighborhood or a home where violence is commonplace – can develop AD from ongoing stress.

An inability to cope with life changes also drives AD. Teens who don’t handle change well or lack a strong support network are more prone to AD than other teens. Also, having an existing mental illness like generalized anxiety disorder or bipolar disorder can cause AD as well. Finally, Mayo Clinic warns stress experienced in early childhood can cause AD to develop later in adolescence or adulthood. Additionally, teenagers with AD are also at risk for developing antisocial personality disorder, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

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Getting Adjustment Disorder Treatment

Like other mood disorders, AD responds well to treatment. However, AD can also cause other serious problems to develop – this combination of disorders is known as a dual diagnosis. Sovereign Health is a leading provider of dual diagnosis treatment, and our youngest patients receive the same personalized, effective care our adult patients benefit from.

Rancho San Diego is a safe, comfortable and secure facility which allows teens to move past their problems in a rural, summer camp-esque setting. Located in rural San Diego County, troubled adolescents can receive effective therapeutic methods which will teach them new things about themselves and their capability for resilience.

Sovereign takes a holistic view towards treatment – we don’t merely address AD by itself. Sovereign Health provides expert care for AD, along with conditions which often co-occur along with AD such as substance abuse. We work with our patients to determine if there are any underlying concerns which could affect their recovery. Our residential treatment center for adolescents, Rancho San Diego, is a safe and comfortable place for teens to heal as they deal with their problems free from distractions. By providing each patient with an individualized treatment plan for adjustment disorder we ensure our young patients reach their full potential and have the best chance at a complete recovery.

Why Choose Sovereign Health of Rancho San Diego?

We’re a leading provider of mental health and addiction treatment for adolescents. Why?

  • Rancho San Diego is fully accredited by the Joint Commission, the largest and oldest health care grading agency in the U.S.
  • Our facility is safe, secure and comfortable
  • We treat both the mental disorder and any underlying problems

A healthier life can start today – call our 24/7 helpline for more information to learn more about our adjustment disorder treatment centers.

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