Adjustment disorder: A diagnosis whose time has come

J Affect Disord. 2018 Feb:227:243-253. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2017.10.034. Epub 2017 Oct 23.


Background: Adjustment disorder is among the most frequently diagnosed mental disorders in clinical practice although it has received little academic attention and been the subject of substantial criticism over the past decades. While those suffering with adjustment disorders are often treated by mental health professionals, research interest in the origin of the disorder or the effectiveness of psychotherapeutic and medical interventions has only recently begun to emerge. This article summarizes the empirical literature published on adjustment disorder and points out current diagnostic developments in DSM-5 and ICD-11.

Methods: Literature for this review was identified through established online search tools, including publications in English, German, and Spanish.

Results: This paper reviews literature on the evolution of adjustment disorder, and highlights the current state of research with regard to genesis and treatment. Importantly, for the first time ICD-11 intends to define adjustment disorder by explicit symptom groups, unlike DSM-5.

Limitations: Publications without an English abstract were not included.

Conclusions: Key directions for future research include investigating the concordance of the ICD-11 and DSM-5 concepts and the effect that the diverging conceptualizations may have. Risk and protective factors specific to AD should be identified and the biological underpinnings of the disorder should be explored. Finally, given the high prevalence of AD in certain clinical settings effective disorder-specific interventions should be developed and evaluated.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adjustment Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Humans
  • International Classification of Diseases