Getting Help For Your Teen Who Is Suffering From Adjustment Disorder Treatment

Is your teen undergoing major changes in his life? Are these changes negatively affecting his behavior? Sometimes, parents tend to underestimate the level of stress that their teens are going through, assuming that the teens have the capacity to cope. But it is important to recognize that the stresses that adults may consider “all in a day’s work” can seem massive and overwhelming to a teen.


What is Adjustment Disorder?


Also referred to as “situational depression”, this type of disorder occurs when the teen is unable to cope with what he is going through. Teens may have varied responses to this disorder. The teen may:

–          Become depressed. The teen stops enjoying the things he used to – hobbies, sports, favorite food, etc. There is, instead, a feeling of hopelessness and despair. The teen may have bouts of despair, some of which may even drive him to consider or attempt suicide.

–          Exhibit anxiety. The teen may develop some separation anxiety from people and things that are loved and familiar to him such as his parents. There will be an increased tendency towards nervousness and difficulty in concentrating.

–          Act out.In an effort to compensate for what he is feeling, the teen may be behaviorally problematic. He will find opportunities to defy authority, get into trouble or become violent with others. There will also be cases of truancy, shoplifting, vandalism and trouble with the law.


Aside from these, the teen may engage in self-destructive behavior, abuse drugs and alcohol and become self-withdrawn.


Although adjustment disorders happen at any age, teens are perhaps the most vulnerable to it. This is because a teen is not yet emotionally and psychologically equipped to cope with stress. The teen with this disorder has a greatly diminished capacity to participate in his daily routine.


Factors that contribute to Adjustment Disorder


Teens are already stressed out due to the changes they feel with their bodies and the surge of hormones during puberty. What’s more, they are not mature enough to deal with strong emotions. Aside from this, there are also other factors:

Family background. A teen will become more stressed when he has a family that is always in conflict – the parents are always fighting, are on the verge of divorce or already have been divorced. There is a high level of sibling rivalry and conflict from other family members. A teen may also fall victim to a family member or friend who will abuse him physically, emotionally or sexually.

Environment. A teen that comes from a low socioeconomic background will be more vulnerable since he will tend to live in a neighborhood where crime and abuse is rampant.

Traumatic experience.If the teen is a witness to a crime or act of violence or when he when he experiences a natural calamity (i.e. a flood or storm) or an accident.

Major changes in his life. There is a sense of loss during life changes such as when the family moves to a new place or when a he loses a parent.


Getting Help For Your Teen


An adjustment disorder will significantly hamper your teen’s development and transition into adulthood. When left untreated, this may even affect how he does in the future. As parents, we must be proactive in getting help for out teens – the earlier the better.


Since this is a mental health issue, consult a trusted psychiatrist or therapist about a treatment strategy. Depending on your teen’s case, a health professional may use psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy or medications.


You can also consider getting your child into a troubled teen program that offers the above treatment modalities and who can provide a balanced set of activities and treatment. This may include individual and group therapy, as well as physically challenging activities and recreational therapy. Ideally, the program you choose will have a resident therapist that can provide some therapy while your teen is enrolled in the program. Some examples of such programs include a therapeutic school for teen or a short-term wilderness program.


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