Fitness Facts: Adjustment disorder
By Jo Gott
Adult Health Nurse Practitioner, Canyon Health and Wellness Clinic
Fall is a time of new beginnings! To most people, it is exciting to start a new school year with a fresh living situation, new classes, making friends and perhaps establishing healthier habits. For some individuals, however, change is difficult and what was supposed to be an exciting start of college life becomes a stressful adjustment.
An adjustment disorder is a short-term condition that occurs when a person has great difficulty coping with, or adjusting to, a particular source of stress, such as a major life change, loss or event.
It occurs within three months of the onset of the stress. The symptoms include marked distress that is in excess of what would normally be expected from exposure to the stress and/or significant impairment in social, occupational or educational functioning.
At the Canyon Health and Wellness Clinic in the fall, we frequently see students who are trying to adjust to college life. For many, it is the first time away from home for an extended period of time, and everything is different than what they expected! Students who come to the clinic report these symptoms:
- Poor memory/concentration
- Constant worry
- Shortness of breath
- Heart palpitations
- Upset stomach
- Sweaty hands
- Muscle tension
- Inability to relax
If you are a student or interact with students who are experiencing the above symptoms but are not certain why, refer them to the Canyon Health and Wellness Center. The nurse practitioners will perform screening tests to examine the student for any new onset physical illness in additional to questionnaires regarding anxiety and depression.
If the student is experiencing an adjustment disorder, they will be encouraged to see our counselors at the GCU Office for Student Care. Additionally, peer support is often useful in helping students adjust to college.
Remember, an adjustment disorder can occur at any time during a person’s life but is a short-term condition. Once diagnosed and understood, the person can grow from the experience and help others in the future adjust to changes.