Life presents us all with many changes; some expected and some unexpected. Even good changes can be stressful to adjust to. Transitions can be unexpected, or they can be developmental changes. In other words, we make changes in our life as we grow older that we must adjust to. One example is moving out of our parents home for the first time, or retirement. These are changes that are part of the life cycle.
What impact do transitions have?
Life transitions can be beneficial despite being stressful. Imagine adjusting to marriage, or a new dream job, or moving to a new exciting city. These are all adjustments that one might want to make in their life. Adjusting to these life transitions successfully can leave us feeling stronger, or more confident, and even better prepared for future transitions. However sometimes transitions are troubling, and leave us feeling lost, out of control, and uncertain. These feelings can cause stress, anger, anxiety, or even feelings of depression.
What are the symptoms of Adjustment Disorder?
An adjustment disorder occurs when a major life change or stress disrupts our normal means of coping; making it difficult or impossible to cope with the new circumstance. Symptoms of this condition tend to begin within three months of the change and often include a depressed or anxious mood, changes in daily habits, feelings of overwhelming stress and panic, difficulty enjoying activities, and changes in sleeping or eating.
What are the treatments for Adjustment Disorder?
There is no specific treatment that is more helpful than others when it comes to Adjustment Disorder. Therapy can be quite helpful though in dealing with the symptoms of anxiety, or depression. Sometimes having a professional therapist to talk to can be helpful in developing increased self-confidence, and when exploring different coping strategies to adjust to the new change. Other times people may find it helpful to seek out a support group that is made up of other people experiencing the same life transition. This type of support group can include a professional counselor, or can simply be made up of members with a common goal and experience.
Strategies for coping with change:
1. Research an upcoming change: sometimes just having knowledge about the unknown is helpful in easing some of the anxiety or fear.
2. Meeting physical needs: taking care of yourself physically by maintaining a healthy diet, and getting enough sleep is always helpful in setting yourself up for success when anticipating a change.
3. Relaxation: practicing simple relaxation techniques like deep breathing, or simply taking time for leisure activities during time of great change can be helpful in creating balance.
4. Limit Change: many times life changes are unexpected, so why make it harder for ourselves by making unnecessary changes at the same time?
5. Seek support: find a family member, or friend or coworker to talk to about the stressor.