Adjustment Disorder: What Is It?

Adjustment disorder is an unusually strong or long-lasting reaction to an upsetting event. The triggering event might be a divorce, a death in the family, moving to a new home, starting a different school, a break up, or a big life disappointment. A child with the disorder will have a hard time coping with his emotions and may become depressed or anxious, exhibit hostility, pick fights, or refuse to go to school, among many possible responses. The disorder is a reaction to an event of great importance to the child — whether or not that event appears significant to others. It can occur in young children, adolescents, and even adults.