Has anything happened in your life recently that you find difficult to cope with? Do you or people around you concerned that your reaction to an event is disproportionate and/or irrational? Do you find that your life has changed dramatically as the result of a recent stressful event?
What is Adjustment?
Adjustment is the ability to adapt to change. When we choose to change something about ourselves or about our lifestyle the adjustments that we make to allow that change are usually viewed in a fairly positive light. However, changes that are forced upon an individual are often perceived as losses, that is, a sense of a loss of control over one’s life.
How can Adjustment Counselling help you navigate life changes?
Sometimes when we face major changes or stressors in our lives it may help to talk it over with a professional for guidance. A Life Psychologist can help you take a fresh look at your life changes and give a neutral voice to help you better cope with the life change and minimise the negative impact on your wellbeing.
Some of the main life changes or stressors for which people often seek professional help to overcome include:
- Relationship breakdown
- Death of a loved one
- Development of a significant illness or injury
- Job loss
- Living through a disaster
- Severe financial loss / bankrupcy
- Change in career
- Having a baby
- Moving cities or countries
Certain life events, such as relationship breakdown or the loss of a job, may elicit such high level of distress that individuals find it almost impossible to cope with the emotional demands. They may put everything on hold, such as social engagements, hobbies, family relationships, and feel that all they can do is think about what happened to them. Others may engage in irrational behaviour, suffer from reactive depression or anxiety. When people are unable to cope and adjust to changed life circumstances, their reaction might lead to Adjustment Disorder.
Adjustment disorder is a treatable condition and key psychological strategies and coping skills can quickly re-establish a healthy emotional state. While a strong reaction to life changes is normal, the inability to cope could lead to the development of long term conditions, such as chronic depression or generalised anxiety.
Symptoms of Adjustment Disorder
Some of the symptoms that may persist when someone isn’t coping with life stressors include:
- Disturbed sleep
- Changed appetite, eating patterns (including comfort eating)
- Excess worry/rumination
- Getting snappy/upset over trivial things
- Low or anxious mood
- Crying easily
- Difficulty stopping self from thinking about the stressor
- Not seeing a way forward past the stressor
- Struggling with indecisiveness about important life decisions
- Development of negative thinking patterns
- Social withdrawal
- Being emotionally numb or excessively emotional
- Having thoughts of wanting to run away from it all
Treatment of Adjustment Disorder
The treatment choice for Adjustment Disorder is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) with a strong focus on stress management and relaxation training. The goal of the treatment is to explore the impact of the stressful event on your emotional well being and to explore how you think about and how you evaluate the event.
CBT will help you gain skills in recognising unhelpful thought patterns, challenge them and successfully generate alternative, coping focused thoughts. Additionally, your therapist will focus on how your behaviour and activity level has changed as the result of the stressful event in your life, and will work with you to re-establish your normal behaviour pattern and activities.
If you believe that you are not coping or “can’t let go” or others around you are concerned that your reaction to an event is excessive, contact us to discuss your concerns.