Adjustment Disorders

Also known as: stress response syndrome.

What are adjustment disorders?

An adjustment disorder is an unhealthy, excessive behavioral or emotional reaction, usually in children or adolescents, to a difficult and/or stressful major life event, or change in life, which may be sudden or ongoing for some time (and normally occurs within 3 months of the event). 

What causes adjustment disorders? 

Children vary in their temperament, vulnerability and ability to cope with a stressful situation. Divorce, death (or birth), environmental catastrophes, moving to a different city, loss of a pet, or other life change and more, are some of the triggers that may result in adjustment symptoms. 

What are the symptoms of adjustment disorders? 

There are a number of ways children/adolescents present. Symptoms may be predominantly associated with:
  • Depressed mood (like tearfulness, sadness, hopelessness)
  • Anxiety symptoms (like worry or  nervousness)
  • A combination of depressed mood plus anxiety symptoms
  • Problems with the way they behave (like bullying, destruction of property, fighting, missing school)
  • A mixture of emotional and conduct symptoms
  • A variety of symptoms that don’t fit into any of the above presentations.
Symptoms may also suggest medical (for example skipped heartbeats) or psychiatric problems.

What are adjustment disorder care options? 

Individual psychotherapy with a cognitive behavioral approach, family therapy, talk therapy, self-help peer groups, and possibly medications for a short time for a specific symptom, may all be offered. 

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: 2/14/2018 11:56:55 AM

Weekly Support Programs

​F.O.C.U.S. Program

This group therapy program is designed for children ages 7 to 17 with behaviorial issues, including but not limited to ADHD. This support group meets on Wednesdays.   Learn more.

Calm Kids

Calm Kids is a weekly group therapy course designed to teach children strategies on how to take control over anxiety symptoms. Children will learn how to cope with fears and worries, identify anxiety triggers, how to relax the mind and body and maximize their self-confidence. This group meets on Tuesdays. Learn more.

Camp DMC

Camp DMC is a summer program for children with special needs run by Nicklaus Children’s Dan Marino Outpatient Center. Please note: We will not offer Camp DMC during summer of 2019. Learn more.

Pain Management Group

This eight-week program is specifically designed to empower children ages 7 to 18 through complex sensory experiences. Learn more.

Teen Sleep Group

This six-week program is designed for teens ages 13 to 16 experiencing difficulties related to sleep, including daytime sleepiness, trouble waking in the morning, difficulty falling asleep and waking in the middle of the night. Learn more.

Social Skills Group

Children and teens ages 7 to 17 are invited to join this small discussion group to learn how to make, cultivate and maintain friendships. Participants will learn basic conversational skills, and discuss the use of appropriate humor, how to electronically connect with others, and how to manage disagreements. Learn more.