Adjustment vs Acute Stress Disorder: Difference and Comparison

We are stressed by lots of events that are happening around us. No matter how hard we try to run away, it will follow and haunt us.

There are many types of stress disorders available, and the two most commonly discussed are Adjustment Disorder and the other is Acute Stress Disorder. 

Key Takeaways

  1. Adjustment Disorder is a psychological response to stressful life events, while Acute Stress Disorder is a more severe reaction to trauma.
  2. Adjustment Disorder symptoms develop within three months of a stressor and last no longer than six months, while Acute Stress Disorder symptoms last between three days to one month after a trauma.
  3. Adjustment Disorder is treated with psychotherapy, while Acute Stress Disorder may require medication and cognitive behavioral therapy.

Adjustment Disorder vs Acute Stress Disorder

Adjustment disorder is a maladaptive reaction to a stressor that results in emotional or behavioural symptoms within three months of the stressor. Acute stress disorder is a more severe and immediate reaction to trauma. It involves symptoms like re-experiencing the trauma, avoidance behaviours, etc.

Adjustment Disorder vs Acute Stress Disorder

Adjustment Disorder is a type of stress that we should not ignore when the moment we sense it.


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We should seek professional and medical help in this case because if it exceeds more than six months, then it will lead to a chronic disorder, which will be very difficult to cure. People call this an emotional disability as well.

Acute Stress Disorder is one of the stresses that will happen when you are not feeling or mood in the speak to others. It is not something worse when you are in the early stage because a light medication and treatment will help you to get rid of it.

But when you avoid speaking it with others and try to run away from it, then it will haunt you.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonAdjustment DisorderAcute Stress Disorder
DefinitionAdjustment disorder is stress that happens in people’s life due to stressful events or activities.Acute Stress Disorder will lead to depression for at least a month or less and the symptoms will indicate you
SymptomsBehavior and Maladaptive emotionsDepressed due to the surroundings
Stress TypeDivorce or job lossTrauma and natural disasters
TreatmentEither psychotherapy or light medicinesBoth psychotherapy and medicines
Common inChildren and teenagers peopleWomen with trauma

What is Adjustment Disorder?

Adjustment Disorder is stress that is caused due to a stressful event or some change in a person’s life. This is considered to be unhealthy for human life. This will happen within three months, and you can notice the changes within that period.

If you have symptoms for more than six months, then it is considered to be a chronic adjustment disorder.

When you are feeling sad and not enjoying things in your life while you enjoy them, then you are having adjustment stress disorder. There are lots of symptoms that will indicate that you have an adjustment disorder.

People who are always feeling stressed or experiencing anxiety have a high risk of adjustment disorder. When you have trouble sleeping and lack concentration in whatever you are doing, you should consult a doctor. 

When the moment you sense you are having an adjustment disorder, don’t hesitate and lock yourself up in a room. Try to visit a doctor and seek professional help. People who are in the first stage can easily get cured.

If you are having difficulty sharing it with your friends and family, then a stranger will help you by listening to your story. These are people who will not judge us by listening. But the best thing to do is to visit a doctor.

adjustment disorder

What is Acute Stress Disorder?

This disorder happens due to some dysfunctional events or traumatic events. This type of disorder will last for a month or even less than a month.

If you think you are having it for more than a month, then that is called a posttraumatic disorder, which is considered to be the worst, and you should consider professional help from people.

You can find this with the help of some symptoms that happen in your life. If you keep on avoiding these symptoms, then it will lead to loss of your memory.

When you have this disorder, you will often get angry with people and have a low mood in whatever activity you do in life. You always feel to be alone without people surrounding you or not listening to any of their talks.

You will have non-stop recurring dreams from your past and flashbacks of events.

In some cases, this will be with you for three days and in worst cases, it will be there for at least a month. If you are in the first stage, getting proper help from doctors and medicines will help you to heal faster.

The more you ignore, the more it will be dangerous for your life, leading to other complications in the future. To get rid of this faster, speaking to a person who you think would be better might help. But the best thing to do is visit a doctor.

acute stress disorder

Main Differences Between Adjustment Disorder and Acute Stress Disorder

  1. People with Adjustment Disorder will start to get stressed in whatever activities or events that they do in their lives. In Acute Stress Disorder, people will feel lonely and avoid communicating with others.
  2. The symptoms that will help you to find adjustment disorders are behaviour and maladaptive emotions. On the other hand, the symptoms that will help you to find acute stress disorder are depression that happens due to your surroundings.
  3. Some of the stress types of adjustment disorder are divorce or not having a job. But for acute stress disorder is trauma and natural disasters.
  4. The treatment that you can do for adjustment disorder is by following either psychotherapy or taking medications. But in acute stress disorder, you have to take both.
  5. Adjustment Disorder can be found commonly in children and teenage people. But acute stress disorder can be found commonly in women.
Difference Between Adjustment Disorder and Acute Stress Disorder

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