Adjustment Disorder and Depression are both mental health issues that can have similar symptoms. However, there are some key differences between them. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the main differences between adjustment disorder vs depression.

What Are Mental Disorders?

Mental disorders are medical conditions that affect the way people think, feel and behave. They can be caused by a combination of genetic, environmental, emotional, or psychological factors. Mental disorders are classified into different categories such as anxiety disorders, mood disorders, psychotic disorders, personality disorders, eating disorders, and adjustment disorders.

Adjustment Disorder

Adjustment DisorderAdjustment disorder is a type of mental disorder that occurs when an individual is unable to effectively manage reactions to life changes or stressful events. It is characterized by symptoms of sadness, anxiety, anger, and difficulty adjusting to new circumstances. According to the American Psychiatric Association, the symptoms must begin within three months of the stressful event and last no longer than six months after the stressor has ended.

Chronic Adjustment Disorder

Chronic adjustment disorder is a long-term form of adjustment disorder that can last for months or even years. People with chronic adjustment disorder may feel overwhelmed by the changes in their life and find it difficult to cope.

Types of Adjustment Disorders

There are several types of adjustment disorders. Adjustment disorders can be divided into three different but similar types:

  • with depressed mood
  • with anxiety
  • or with mixed disturbance of emotions and conduct


Each type of adjustment disorder has its own unique set of symptoms. Symptoms usually appear within three months of the stressor and can include depression-like symptoms such as:

  • difficulty sleeping or concentrating
  • feelings of hopelessness
  • loss of interest in activities
  • changes in appetite

What is Depression?

Depression is a serious mental illness characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, guilt, emptiness, hopelessness, and worthlessness. It can be caused by a combination of genetic, environmental, or psychological factors.

Types of Depression

There are several types of depression, including:

  • major depressive disorder
  • persistent depressive disorder
  • bipolar disorder
  • postpartum depression
  • premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)
  • seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
  • psychotic depression


Depression can cause a wide range of emotional and behavioral symptoms such as:

  • difficulty concentrating
  • changes in appetite or sleep patterns
  • fatigue
  • irritability or anger
  • recurrent thoughts
  • suicidal thoughts

Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)

Major depressive disorder (MDD) or major depression, is one of the most common and severe forms of depression. It is characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, guilt, emptiness, worthlessness, and hopelessness.

Common symptoms of MDD include the following:

  • disturbances in sleep or appetite
  • difficulty concentrating
  • low energy levels
  • irritability
  • suicidal ideation

MDD can affect people of any age but is more common in women than men.

How Is Adjustment Disorder Different from Depression?

How Is Adjustment Disorder Different from DepressionAlthough adjustment disorder is similar to depression in that it involves feelings of sadness and lack of joy, there are key differences between the two mental illnesses. While both may involve difficulty adjusting to life changes, adjustment disorder is considered to be a short-term condition that is typically resolved within six months. A major depressive episode oftentimes lasts for approximately 2 weeks.

Depression, on the other hand, is a much more serious and longer-term mental health disorder that can last for months or even years. It is often more severe and can interfere with an individual’s ability to function in daily life. Major depression may involve physical symptoms such as headaches or muscle tension that are not typically associated with adjustment disorder.

While both mental health conditions require professional treatment, the type of treatment will vary depending on the diagnosis. Adjustment disorder can often be managed with counseling, supportive therapy, and lifestyle changes. Depression, however, typically requires more intensive treatment such as medication or psychotherapy.

It is important to seek professional help if you are experiencing any of the emotional symptoms or behavioral symptoms associated with either adjustment disorder or major depression so that you can receive the proper diagnosis and treatment plan for your individual needs. With the right support and treatment, you can learn to cope with your symptoms and create a healthier, happier life.

Risk Factors For Adjustment Disorders

Adjustment disorders can be triggered by a variety of factors.

Common risk factors include:

• stressful life events (such as a death in the family, divorce, job loss)

• certain medical conditions or medications

• learning difficulties or disabilities

• substance abuse or misuse

• trauma or abuse

• genetics

• social isolation

• poverty or other economic difficulties

• family history of mental illness

If you are struggling with any of these factors, it is important to seek help from a mental health professional. With the right social support, you can learn to cope and manage your symptoms.

Diagnostic Criteria For Diagnosing Adjustment Disorder

Diagnosing Adjustment DisorderAccording to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), the diagnostic criteria for Adjustment Disorder include:

• The development of emotional or behavioral symptoms in response to an identifiable stressor(s) within 3 months of the onset of the stressor(s).

• These symptoms are clinically significant, as evidenced by either marked distress that is in excess of what would be expected from exposure to the stressor or significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

• The symptoms do not meet the criteria for another mental disorder and are not merely an exacerbation of a preexisting mental disorder.

• The symptoms are not due to direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., drug of abuse, medication) or general medical condition and are not better explained by another mental disorder.

Treatment For Adjustment Disorders And Depression

Adjustment disorders and major depression can be treated with a combination of treatment strategies like medications, psychotherapy, lifestyle changes, and supportive or family therapy. Medications such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications may be prescribed to help manage symptoms. Common medications used to treat major depression include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and tricyclic antidepressants.

Psychotherapy can help an individual identify patterns of behavior in the person’s life that may be contributing to the mental health disorder and work through any underlying issues or conflicts that could be causing or exacerbating the disorder. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of talk therapy that focuses on identifying, understanding, and changing negative thinking patterns and behaviors associated with mental health issues and stressful life events.

In addition, lifestyle changes such as getting adequate rest, exercise, weight loss, and good nutrition can help improve mood and reduce stress. Supportive therapy such as group or family therapy can be used to provide a safe and supportive environment to discuss treatment options, feelings, notable changes, and learn new coping skills as well.

It is important to remember that everyone’s experience with mental health is different, so it’s important to find a treatment plan that works for you. With the right help and support, you can learn to manage your symptoms and lead a healthier, happier life.

Online Therapy From Mindflow Recovery

Online Therapy From Mindflow RecoveryAdjustment disorder and depression are two distinct mental health conditions that can both affect an individual’s emotional and behavioral functioning. Adjustment disorder usually occurs after a stressful event and is often a short-term condition that is resolved within six months, while depression and major depression can be more long-term or severe. Regardless, it is important to seek help from a licensed mental health professional if you are experiencing any of the symptoms associated with either disorder. With the right support and treatment, you can learn to cope with your symptoms and create a healthier, happier life.

The first step in treating adjustment disorder or depression is to seek a professional assessment from a mental health provider with expertise in diagnosing these conditions. This will help identify any underlying factors that may be contributing to the disorder as well as provide guidance on the best type of treatment.

At Mindflow Recovery, we offer online therapy for adjustment disorders, depression, major depression, and other mental illnesses that can help individuals gain insight into their condition and develop healthier coping strategies to manage their more severe symptoms. Our licensed mental health professionals are experienced in helping individuals understand their AD or MDD diagnosis, recognize any underlying issues, and create an individualized treatment plan to ensure the best possible outcome.

Mindflow Recovery FAQ

Q: What is the difference between Adjustment Disorder and Depression?

A: The main differences between adjustment disorder and depression are their duration and severity. Adjustment disorder typically occurs in response to a stressful event such as a death in the family or job loss, and symptoms usually last for about six months or less. Major depression is a more severe mental health disorder that may involve longer-term symptoms or a significant level of impairment in functioning.

Q: What type of treatment is available for Adjustment Disorder?

A: Treatment for adjustment disorder may include a combination of medications, psychotherapy, lifestyle changes, and supportive or family therapy.

Q: Does Mindflow Recovery accept health insurance?

A: Yes! We accept a variety of health insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid. We also offer sliding scale fees for those who may not be able to afford the full cost of treatment. Please visit our website or contact us directly for more information on eligibility and coverage options.

Q: What can I expect during an online therapy session?

A: At Mindflow Recovery, our licensed mental health professionals use evidence-based methods such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to help individuals identify patterns of behavior and thoughts that may be contributing to their adjustment disorder or depression. During your sessions, you will work together to create individualized strategies and develop positive coping skills aimed at reducing symptoms, improving mood, and creating a healthier lifestyle.