Adjustment Disorder vs PTSD: Difference and Comparison

Adjustment Disorders and PTSD are both stress-related or trauma-related disorders. Symptoms of both disorders are somewhat similar, which is why they are often confused.

Key Takeaways

  1. Adjustment disorder is a psychological response to a stressful life event, while PTSD is a mental health condition that can develop after exposure to trauma.
  2. Adjustment disorder symptoms resolve within six months, while PTSD symptoms can persist for years.
  3. Adjustment disorder is less severe than PTSD and does not involve the same level of impairment.

Adjustment Disorder vs PTSD 

Adjustment disorder is a type of reaction to a stressor that results in significant emotional or behavioural symptoms within three months of the stressor. PTSD is a condition that develops after exposure to a traumatic event and involves symptoms like flashbacks, avoidance behaviours, etc.

Adjustment Disorder vs PTSD

These changes can include- unemployment, change of community or environment, and many other factors. The symptoms of this disorder are comparatively less intense than that of PTSD.

The symptoms of this disorder are comparatively more intense than that of Adjustment Disorder. The symptoms of this disorder are intense enough to interfere with the relationships and work-life of an individual.

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Comparison Table

 Parameters of Comparison Adjustment Disorder  PTSD 
 Symptoms Intensity The intensity of the symptoms is comparatively less than PTSD.  The intensity of the symptoms is comparatively more than Adjustment Disorder.  
 Stressor  Some significant changes in a life situation like unemployment, environment, or community change.  Some intense and serious events like- sexual abuse, violence, war, and calamities. 
 Duration  Symptoms start manifesting within three months of the onset of the stressor and should not last more than six months.  The symptoms will last for more than a month, and delayed expressions can occur at least six months after the event. 
 Specifiers  It can be specified by a depressed mood, anxiety, or disturbance of conduct.  It can be specified with dissociative symptoms or delayed expression. 
 Prevalence  Prevalence of Adjustment Disorder is more common compared to PTSD.  Prevalence of PTSD is less common compared to Adjustment Disorder. 

What is Adjustment Disorder (AD)? 

Adjustment Disorder (AD) is a type of disorder caused due to the inability of an individual to deal with a new situation or some life changes.

The symptoms of Adjustment Disorder (AD) are less intense compared to PTSD. The symptoms can start manifesting within three months of the stressor’s onset and last no more than six months.

An individual with AD might be unable to handle the stressors due to fatigue or additional stress. This, in turn, can cause significant disturbances to a person’s social as well as professional life.

adjustment disorder

What is PTSD? 

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a condition caused or triggered by suffering from a traumatic experience like sexual abuse, violence, war, or calamity.

The symptoms of PTSD are more intense compared to Adjustment Disorder. The symptoms of PTSD will last for more than a month, and the delayed expressions can occur at least six months after the event.

Reactivity changes such as aggressiveness, hypervigilance, difficulty concentrating, and sleep disturbances may also occur. The symptoms of this disorder are intense enough to interfere with the relationships and work-life of an individual.

ptsd

Main Differences Between Adjustment Disorder and PTSD 

  1. Anxiety, depression, mixed anxiety, and disturbance of conduct are some of the specifiers of AD. On the other hand, delayed expression and dissociative symptoms are specifiers of PTSD.  
  2. Prevalence of Adjustment Disorder is more common compared to PTSD, whereas the prevalence of PTSD is less common compared to AD. 
Difference Between Adjustment Disorder and PTSD
References
  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0165178117301695 
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5790100/ 

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