What is Adjustment Disorder?

Updated: Jun 15

Have you ever felt bummed without an obvious cause? Your unexpected blues may be adjustment disorder, also known as atypical depression, according to Psych Central. This form of depression is characterized by hypersomnia, increased appetite, and heightened social sensitivity. In fact, PubMed reported that up to 36 percent of patients who have depression have been diagnosed specifically with adjustment disorder.



Deeper dive on the symptoms of adjustment disorder

Adjustment disorder is recognized in people with a "reactive mood” which basically means that your mood depends on your circumstance whether positive or negative. People with this reactive mood tendency and any two traits below would be diagnosed with adjustment disorder.

  • Overeating

  • Fatigue

  • Heavy limbs

  • Recurring episodes of sensitivity to rejection

Adjustment disorder is not always consistent for some patients. Studies prove that adjustment disorder steadily shows up 29 percent of the time. Most people have fluctuations between various forms of depression rather than having one kind repeatedly over time.


Contributing factors for adjustment disorder

The cause for adjustment disorder is still being explored by the mental health community, however there are several contributing factors to this common form of depression, including:

  • Adaptation to the nervous system

  • Higher levels of inflammation

  • Imbalanced Leptin system

  • Lack of blood flow to the occipital lobe of the brain


Psychotherapy as treatment for atypical depression

Adjustment disorder can be treated with psychotherapy, specifically cognitive behavioral therapy. Patients are taught to recognize and transmute limiting thoughts into constructive actions.


This recent four-month study compared the results of antidepressant medication and psychotherapy. Both methods reduced depressive episodes, yet psychotherapy was more effective at inhibiting excessive eating and hypersomnia.