Psychiatry Fast Five Quiz: What Do You Know About Adjustment Disorder?

Stephen Soreff, MD


December 16, 2016

Adolescents aged 15-19 with adjustment disorder are at highest risk for suicide. What makes this population particularly vulnerable is their lack of perspective: A teen may never have experienced a broken romantic relationship, lost a job, or failed a test. As a result, the adolescent may catastrophize the event and choose suicide. Age affects treatment outcomes as well: After adjustment disorder, adults without previous mental disorders generally remain free of disorders, whereas children and adolescents are more likely to develop serious mental illnesses.

One study found a 12-fold higher rate of suicide in persons diagnosed with the disorder. Suicidal ideation and behavior are as common and as dangerous in patients with adjustment disorder as in patients with a major depressive episode. Moreover, the suicidal process seems to evolve more quickly in persons with adjustment disorder, with a median interval of only 1 month from the first suicidal communication to the suicide. Patients should be monitored closely for suicidal or self-harming thoughts or behavior.

For more on the prognosis for adjustment disorder, read here.

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