It’s widely acknowledged that university is stressful. Not only can the courses be difficult, but many university students are also balancing part-time jobs and other responsibilities. They may be living on their own for the first time and attempting to navigate their way into a new social environment. It’s stressful, and that stress may manifest itself as something known as adjustment disorder (AD).
According to mayoclinic.org, AD (also known as stress response syndrome) is a disorder that people may experience when adjusting to new and stressful situations, such as the death of a loved one, beginning a new job, moving to a new location, or starting university. It is normal to find any of these situations stressful, but when a person’s transition to a stressful new life event is more extreme than is considered typical, they may be experiencing AD. Symptoms of AD vary widely from person to person—people affected may become withdrawn and moody, overly anxious, or behave in ways otherwise out of character.
Along with post-traumatic stress disorder, according to webmd.com, AD is a type of stress response syndrome. Post-traumatic stress disorder occurs after a traumatic event has occurred, while AD occurs during a stressful life change. According to psychologytoday.com, AD is sometimes called situational depression, although this term does not apply to all aspects of AD because it can also include anxiety and other symptoms, and is typically temporary, lasting no longer than six months.
There are six different types of adjustment disorder, according to healthline.com: AD with depressed mood, AD with anxiety, AD with mixed anxiety and depressed mood, AD with disturbance of conduct, AD with mixed disturbance of emotions and conduct, and AD unspecified. AD differs from disorders with similar symptoms because it must have the presence of a stressor, whereas other disorders can occur without any known cause. Psychologytoday.com states that AD can significantly affect someone’s life, impairing a person’s ability to function socially and/or academically, or otherwise make it difficult for them to succeed.
Because AD is temporary, it may be tempting to wait it out and avoid seeking help. However, there are many other mental illnesses that may appear similar, and it is not advisable to self-diagnose. VIU offers confidential counselling services for students. If you feel you are suffering from adjustment disorder or are otherwise in need of help, do not hesitate to contact VIU’s counselling services. Counselling services are located in Building 200 on the third floor (the same level as VIU’s transit exchange). You can make an appointment in person or phone at 250-740-6416. For more information, visit their web page: <https://services.viu.ca/counselling/>.
For further information on adjustment disorder, see these links: