Anxiety Disorder and Adjustment Disorder

Adjustment Disorder 1 Running head: ANXIETY DISORDER AND ADJUSTMENT DISORDER A Comparison of Anxiety Disorder and Adjustment Disorder Victoria Argueta Walden University Diagnosis and Assessment Dr. Edward Beck February 6, 2011 Adjustment Disorder 2 The DSM-IV-TR has two general categories for a person’s response to stress; they are adjustment disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Many factors influence a person’s response to stressful situations. Several relatively common stressors; prolonged unemployment, loss of a loved one through death, and marital separation/divorce, may produce a great deal of stress and psychological maladjustment, resulting in adjustment disorder ( Butcher, Minkea & Hooley, 2010). The DSM-IV-TR states that there are seven primary types of anxiety; phobic disorders, panic disorder with or without agoraphobia, generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic disorder.

Mineka & Zinbarg (1996, 2006), report among common psychological causes, we will see that classical conditioning of fear/panic and/or anxiety to a range of stimuli plays a prominent role in most of these disorders. A case of general anxiety disorder will be discussed later in this comparison between anxiety and adjustment disorder. A person meeting the criteria for Adjustment Disorder has a maladaptive response to a common stressor,that occurs within three months of the stressor, their reaction to the stressor may be excessive. s a short-term condition that occurs when a person is unable to cope with, or adjust to, a particular source of stress, such as a major life change, loss, or event The persons symptoms lessens or disappears when the stressor subsides or the individual adapts to the stressor. (Butcher, Mineka, & Hooley, 2010). The person can develop both emotional and behavioral symptoms to a stressful event leading to a display of symptoms similar to depression, such as, loss of interests and a feeling of hopelessness, therefore, Adjustment Disorder is

Adjustment Disorder 3 sometimes also called “situational depression”. The reaction to the stressor is more than what is typical for a situation. These symptoms may cause problems with a person’s ability to function; for example, the person may be unable to sleep, work, or study, which are similar symptoms of Anxiety Disorder. The reaction to the stressor is more than what is typical for a situation (WebMD, 2011). The Anxiety Disorder, such as, PTSD, is an unrealistic, irrational fear or anxiety of disabling intensity, it can occur without warning.

In all there are seven under the DSM-IV-TR anxiety disorder category, phobias, PTSD, GAD, OCD and panic disorder with or without agoraphobia (APA, 2000). Social environment, parenting styles and psychological conditioning all play part in defining the causes for anxiety disorders. “Biologically, we seem to have a preparedness to acquire readily fears of objects or situations that posed a threat to our early ancestors” ( Butcher, Mineka ; Hooley, 2007, p. 222). Social environment, parenting styles and psychological conditioning all play part in defining the causes for anxiety disorders.

Chorpita ; Barlow (1998), report that a persons perceptions of uncontrollability that contribute to anxiety symptoms are largely associated with the environment that a person is raised in. Factors that complicate the diagnosis of anxiety disorder vs. adjustment disorder exist because of the symptoms the client is reporting. It is possible for the client to meet the criteria of both disorders. “A client meeting the criteria for General Anxiety Disorder often have a long and consistent history of having anxiety Adjustment Disorder 4 and worry about a variety of things.

Clients meeting the criteria for Adjustment Disorder experience their symptoms in times of stress or change. People can have both disorders, and GAD can be made worse by change and adjustment to things. People with adjustment disorders will often see a large reduction in their anxiety as they adapt to the life change, however, which is not true for people with GAD” (Meek, 2008, p. 1). In the case of “the graduate student with GAD”, John was a 26 year-old single graduate student, he reports anxiety problems almost all of his life, even in his younger childhood years.

Since he left his families home seven to eight years ago his symptoms have gotten worse. This increased anxiety has interfered in his daily life routine and worry carried over into different parts of his life. John noticed that he has become overly concerned with his and his parents health. John’s constant worrying has interfered with his school work and meeting other goals in his life. No matter where John was he was overly concerned or worried about what others thought of him, John also experiences dating anxiety.

John has some physical manifestations of his anxiety; easily becoming fatigued, muscle tension, restlessness and problems with concentration. Anxiousness has interfered with John’s sleep and reports having frequent feelings of paralysis, dizziness and heart palpitations. There is a family history of anxiety in John’s immediate family. The quality of John’s life was being affected, so, therefore, John sought treatment. Adjustment Disorder 5 In John’s case, ethnicity does not seem to play a factor in his anxiety symptoms, however, the family background/history of anxiety symptoms he reports his mother had experienced over the years is.

According to Hettema , Prescott ; Kendler ( 2001), there “does seem likely that there is a modest hereditability, although perhaps smaller than for most other anxiety disorders”. John further meets the criteria for GAD because of his reported panic attacks that lead to him believing at times that he was going to die. People such as John are frequent visitors at physicians offices with claims of muscle tension and fatigue (Butcher, Mineka ; Hooley, 2007).

Being that John’s both parents were professionals implies that John may under pressure from his family to succeed at the prestigious college he was attending. John possibly felt family and societal pressures because he did not have time to devote to establishing relationships through dating which invited self-esteem issues. References American Psychiatric Association. (2000). DSM-IV-TR. Arlington, VA: Author. Butcher, J. N. , Mineka, S. , ; Hooley, J. M. (2007). Abnormal psychology (13th ed. ). Boston, MA: Allyn ; Bacon. Chorpita, B. F. ; Barlow, D. H. (1998).

The development of anxiety: The role of control in the early environment. Psychol. Bull. , 124 (1), 3-21. Hettema, J. M. ,Prescott, C. A. , ; Kendler, K. S. ( 2001). A populayion-based twin study of generalized anxiety disorder in men and women. J. Nerv. Ment. Dis. , 189, 413- 420. Meek, W. (2008). GAD and Adjustment Disorder. Retrieved February 6, 2010. About. com Guide, http://gad. about. com/od/symptoms/a/adjustment. htm Mental Health and Adjustment Disorder (2011). Retrieved from http://www. webmd. com/mental-health/mental-health- adjustment-disorder, February 6, 2011.

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