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The Signs and Symptoms of Adjustment Disorder with Depressed Mood

written by: Daniel P. McGoldrick • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 8/30/2010

What are the signs and symptoms of adjustment disorder with a depressed mood? That’s exactly what we’re going to discuss in this article to make it clear just what type of depression this disorder signifies and what might cause it.

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    Like the Name Implies

    An adjustment disorder with depressed mood is usually a type of depression that isn’t considered as serious or chronic as other forms of this mental illness, yet it certainly might not feel that way to the person suffering from it. Any form of depression that starts to decline into feelings of hopelessness and despair will require the assistance and counsel of mental health professionals to be on the safe side. Appropriate medications and visits to a therapist can always form a bridge back to mental wellness.

    Adjustment disorder is also known as situational depression. Both names imply the temporary nature of this mental malady which is, nonetheless, a dismal and life-disrupting condition. It can cause trouble across the board in the personal and professional lives of those suffering from it, as well as the people who care about them. The depressed mood resulting from adjustment disorder is usually due to an external trigger of some sort. It is characterized by a dismal reaction to a situation or occurrence that the person is temporarily having a great deal of trouble coping with effectively.

    It’s integral to know whether this is indeed the condition someone is suffering from, rather than a more serious and life-threatening form of depression. You can quickly surmise the differentiating signs and symptoms by reading How can I Tell the Difference between Situational and Clinical Depression? Many characterizations and traits may appear the same, but there are a few fundamental distinctions that separate the two.

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    Signs and Symptoms of a Depressed Mood Resulting from an Adjustment Disorder

    As stated, both designations point out the fact that it’s caused by sad, tragic, disrupting, and mentally (and sometimes physically) upsetting events or circumstances in life that cause a person to get really depressed and melancholic. However, all situations and adjustment periods don’t last forever, so there is an end in sight, or at least a time in the future where the person becomes more capable of dealing with the acute strain in his or her life caused by an external factor.

    External factors and stress that can cause depression include the death of a loved one, the termination or betrayal in a relationship, the loss of a job, being the victim of a rape/crime/scam, physical trauma/disease/illness, an accident, having a baby, economic trouble, being a victim of a natural disaster, and loneliness. The sudden onslaught of any of those will bring about this state of being more acutely.

    Signs and symptoms of situational depression with an intertwined depressed mood (which can last days, weeks, and even months) might include any or all of the following:

    • Intense sadness and despondency.
    • Feelings of hopelessness and uselessness.
    • Anxiety, panic attacks.
    • Frequent crying, worry, and disquieting thoughts.
    • Suicidal ideation.
    • Physical effects like headaches, heart palpitations, and inexplicable pain.
    • The tendency to withdraw and isolate.
    • Paranoia.
    • Absence from commitments such as school or work.
    • Destructive behavior.
    • Changes in appetite, lacking energy.
    • Drug/alcohol abuse.
    • Sleep problems.
    • A feeling like there is no way out and no viable solution to the situation.

    So now that you have a firm grasp of what this disorder is all about, you might have the opportunity to see yourself or someone you care about through a difficult time. And just so you know, you can also find articles relating to how to cope, along with supplements that may help, right on our site.