Happiness Secrets.

By David Joel Miller.

Happy people know and practice these secrets.

Many happy faces

Happiness Secrets.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Happiness is not an accident. Being happy is not about luck. There are happy people in the humblest of situations and miserable people in mansions. Mostly this is about your attitude and developing the skills to keep your life in balance. Below is a list of happy life secrets gleaned from a variety of sources. You can have these as my gift to you. Pick through the list and see which happy life skills would benefit you and then adopt those principles today. Most of these are skills. To be effective you can’t just do it once. Being happy is a something you should be practicing every day.

Happy is a choice.

You can stay sad, angry or unhappy as long as you want. Being happy is less about what you have and what happens to you, and much more about how you decide you will react to the events of life.  Make a choice today that you plan to maximum your happiness.  When you look down you see the dirt.  When you look up you see the clouds and at night the stars.

You can be miserable if you chose.

Pain, that stuff comes and goes. Some people get way more than their share and others not so much, but the happy person learns that the pain is out of their control but the suffering is voluntary. You can make the worst of the situation or you can look for the gem stones that come mixed in the gravel of life.

Happy people study to become happiness experts.

An expert can see things other people miss. A finish carpenter will spot a flaw in construction as soon as they enter the room. Others will never notice that flaw. The happiness expert studies happiness, they can recognize it far off and they are practiced at scooping up and holding on to those little dose of happiness that run by each day.

Look for happiness every day and everywhere.

Happiness is a shy creature.  It is often hiding, mixed in with the activities of everyday life.  Make it your task to spot those fleeting glimpses of happiness.  Collect those happiness sightings the way a bird watcher collects records of having seen a rare bird.

This is a real life, some days are happier than others.

Some days are inherently happier than others.  When there are less happy days make sure to remind yourself that there will be more happy days to come.  Stay open to the possibility that tomorrow something good might happen to you.

Life isn’t always the way you want it. You chose your attitude.

Be careful to not get hung up on the things that you don’t have, or the things that don’t go the way you want them to.  There will be times in life when things don’t go your way.  You may not get to choose the events but you do get to choose the attitude you take towards them.

When you are in a hole, stop digging.

When you find that the things you are doing are making your life worse stop doing those things.  Most of us have a hard time letting go of things that are not adding to our happiness.  Bad habits, drugs and alcohol, gambling, don’t make you happy.  Don’t spend a lot of time on people who are negative and drag you down.  Dispose of the things in your life that are holding you back and treasurer the things that make you happy.

Divorce perfectionism.

Perfectionism it is the enemy of happiness.  Chasing being perfect is a great mirage.  Trying to be perfect leaves you unsatisfied with whenever and wherever you are.  Be kind and accept yourself just the way you are.  A focus on your flaws robs you of the joy of the things that you do well.

Go on a low stress diet. – Stress is about attitude.

Life can be stressful.  Both the good things and the bad things can make you feel stressed.  Learn to not stress yourself out over things.  Accept what is.  Resolve not to stress yourself out over things which are outside your control.

Keep your life in balance.

A happy life needs to stay in balance.  You need time for family, for friends, for work and most importantly for you.  Take care of your body, your mental health and your relationships.  You need some money for basic necessities but you also need to occasionally spend a little on yourself and enjoyment.

Laugh and learn every day.

To be happy you need to practice every day.  Don’t take yourself so seriously.  Learn to joke and have fun.  Learn something new every day.  Make life a great adventure not a drudgery.

Happy people take risks.

You need to take some chances, stick your neck out and see what might happen.  Sometimes to find happiness you have to run the risk of enduring some pain.  The turtle who keeps his head in the shell never gets anywhere.  You will never know the things you might be great at and that might bring you great joy until you have tried them at least once.

Tackle the hard stuff first.

As long as there’s something hard or unpleasant waiting for you it’s hard to enjoy your day.  Tackle that difficult project first thing the rest of the day gets easier.  Start your day by dealing with something difficult or unpleasant and you will enjoy everything after.

Let it go. Don’t hold onto the bad stuff, grudges and arguments.

Your negative emotions will poison you.  Anger, fear, or resentments can sicken your life.  Let go of all the things that you may be holding against someone else and you will lighten your load and reduce your baggage.

Share your happiness, there is plenty to go around. Encourage others.

The more you share happiness the more there is.  Smiling at others will make you feel happy.  No matter how much happiness you give away you will always have some left.  People who are stingy with their happiness find they run out quickly.  Be careful not to equate sharing happiness was spending money or doing work for other people.  You can use money to create things which make people happy but more money does not mean that you are able to buy more happiness.

Get honest with yourself.

You may be able to fool other people, but if you want to be happy stop fooling yourself.  Tell yourself lies and you will be in the most unhappy relationship possible.

Happy people can accept help.

Doing for others can make you feel happy.  Don’t cheat others out of the opportunities to feel happy by helping you.  Happiness is one of those things that the more you give it away the more you have.  There’s nothing wrong with allowing other people to help you.  Learn to accept help graciously with a thank you.

Love life.

To enlarge your happiness, develop a love of life and a joy of living.

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

Advertisements

Types of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD.)

By David Joel Miller.

Not all trauma and stressor related disorders are the same.

Trauma

Trauma.
car crash photo from wikimedia

Most people are familiar with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) the granddaddy of all the trauma and stressor related disorders.  In addition to PTSD there are a number of other trauma and stressor related disorders.  There are two types of attachment disorders, Acute Stress Disorder, a number of varieties of adjustment disorders, and even a category for other specified or unspecified Trauma- and Stressor-Related Disorders that don’t fit these categories of disorders.  For more on these other disorders take a look at these related posts on counselorssoapbox.com

In Posttraumatic Stress Disorder there are recognized and unrecognized subtypes.

Recognized PTSD subtypes or specifiers.

Two subtypes of PTSD dissociative symptoms are recognized.

Depersonalization.

Depersonalization, that is the experience of feeling like you’re outside of yourself looking in.  You may feel like you’re in a dream or are an outside observer watching yourself.  It may feel as if time is moving more slowly or as if you are not real.

Derealization.

Derealization is the experience of feeling like the world is unreal.  You may will feel like you’re in a dream or that things are very distorted and different.

Delayed PTSD.

When someone experiences delayed PTSD we use the specifier “with delayed expression.” Delayed expression occurs when it takes more than six months after the event for the symptoms to become obvious.

PTSD subtypes used with children under six.

There are slightly different criteria used in diagnosing PTSD in children under the age of six.  As a result, we also have two additional subtypes for use with children.  All of the subtypes used with adults can also be applied to children.

PTSD with persistent avoidance of stimuli.

Children with this subtype go to great lengths to avoid anything that would remind them of the original traumatic event.

PTSD’s with negative alterations in cognitions.

Children with this subtype develop all kinds of negative thoughts about themselves and the world.  That may have high levels of fear, shame and guilt, confusion and sadness.  They may withdraw from other people and lose their interest in playing.

PTSD unrecognized subtypes.

Complex Trauma.

While not officially recognized in the DSM-5 a good deal has been written about a condition referred to as “complex trauma.”  Both research and practical experience suggests there is some validity to this idea.

 

This condition occurs when someone is repeatedly traumatized in a very similar way.  Think about somebody who breaks their leg and goes to the hospital.  They have it treated and the leg mends.  If they were to break the same leg again, in the same place, it is less likely to heal a second time.

These types of repeated traumatization are often the result of abuse or domestic violence.  Complex trauma also frequently coexists with substance use disorders or behavioral addictions.

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

Lessons Anxiety teaches you.

By David Joel Miller.

What are your fears teaching you?

Anxiety and Fear

Lessons Anxiety teaches you.
Jimee, Jackie, Tom & Asha

Are you someone who suffers from high anxiety?  Have you learned the lessons that your anxiety is trying to teach you?  Anxiety can be a kind of bully, trying to scare you away from anything new and keeping you from the parts of life that might be beneficial. Or anxiety can become a good teacher and help you learn life lessons.

Below is the list of some lessons that anxiety might be able to teach you and ways that you could develop those lessons.

Just because it scares you does not make it dangerous.

A well-functioning anxiety system help you identify risks and warns you of danger.  Some people’s anxiety system is turned up way too high.  Overly sensitive anxiety systems give off warning sounds and flashing lights even when the danger is minimal.

An important lesson you should learn from your experiences with anxiety is that not everything that makes you fearful or scares you is in fact that dangerous.  Learn that your anxiety is a source of information not an absolute life ruler.

It is OK to feel scared.

Some people believe they should never feel scared.  One of the lessons about anxiety it is important to learn is that it is possible to feel scared and still have nothing bad happened.  Let anxiety teach you this lesson.  Just because you’re scared does not mean that anything terrible or awful will necessarily happen to you

It is OK to feel what you feel.

Are you one of those people who was taught that you shouldn’t feel whatever it is that you are feeling?  A valuable lesson that anxiety and many of our other feelings has to teach us is that humans use feelings as a source of information.  Information is neither good nor bad in and of itself.  Was is important is for you to feel what you’re feeling, decide what that means, and then decide what you wanted do with that information.

Feeling can be your friends.

Feelings are not automatically your enemies.  They can be your friends.  Sometimes anxiety and fear are friends warning you of danger.  What you need to decide is how real and how important that danger it is.  Every so often the danger is very real and very eminent.  During those times you will need to do something about it.  Other times your anxiety is detecting something new and unfamiliar and you’ll need to learn how you are going to respond to that new and novel situation.

Walking towards fear makes it shrink.

Fear is a natural-born bully.  Fear wants to have its way.  The more you give in to your fear the larger the fear grows.  Many things that look scary and are fearful at first sight become far less scary as you begin to do them.

If you walk towards something that scares you, what you will often find is that it is far scarier from a distance than once you get up close.

The first time is always the scariest.

Many people are afraid of something new that they’ve never experienced, but once they’ve tried it for that very first time that may discover that they enjoy it.  Don’t let your fears and your anxieties keep you from trying something that might turn out to be a great deal of fun.

Scary experiences create lasting memories.

Despite the fact that many people avoid things that make them anxious or scare them, most of us are also fascinated by the scary.  Scary movies draw large audiences.  Haunted houses are perennial Halloween favorites.

Because of the heightened level of hormones in the body during scary events the brain thinks that it is important to remember these times.  In thinking about the times that some event made you anxious it is important to remember the times that despite the anxiety those things turned out very well.

You can’t be calm and scared at the same time.

Ever notice when there’s a loud noise everyone turns to look at it and ignores everything else that is happening?  Anxiety and fear are like that.  They distract your attention from what else is going on at the same time.

One way of reducing anxieties impact on you is to learn ways to calm yourself.  Stress reduction techniques like deep breathing, mindfulness, and meditation can all be very helpful in reducing your anxiety.  What you will quickly learn, if you try these techniques, is that it’s not possible to be calm, relaxed and scared at the very same time.

Learn to make this fundamental rule of emotions work for you.  Opposite sets of emotions don’t like to live together.  It’s difficult to laugh when you are sad.  People don’t seem to be able to be both excited and relaxed at the same time.  If you have found that your anxiety has gotten out of control, a quick way to reduce that anxiety, if is to learn ways to self-sooth and calm yourself.

The more skills you have the more you can handle.

In all aspects of life it is important to develop a good set of skills.  While initially it may be uncomfortable to work with strong emotions such as anxiety, the more you do this work the better you get at it.  Repeatedly putting yourself in situations that create a small amount of anxiety, which you discover you are able to handle, can result in increasing your ability to handle increasingly difficult anxiety provoking situations.

Whenever the size of your comfort zone, if you spend too much time cramped inside it, that comfort zone will prevent your personal growth.  Gradually work on stretching out that comfort zone.  Before long you will have the skills to handle situations they used to seem impossible.

When you do good self-care less overwhelms you.

Another lesson than anxiety will teach you is the importance of good self-care.  With poor self-care it’s easy to get stressed out and have everything overwhelmed you.  When you concentrate on taking good care of yourself you will be able to handle situations that you never thought possible.

You will handle most things better than you thought you would.

It’s normal to be very scared before something that you have never experienced. What surprises so many of us is how often we are able to handle far more than we ever believed possible.  Anxiety teaches you that you are capable of much more than you would have believed had you not been in those anxiety provoking situations.

Most of the things we worry about turn out better than we thought.

Many people discover that the majority of things they have worried about turn out better than they expected.  It is a human failing to expect the worst.  Let your anxiety teach you that many good things can happen.

You almost always have more options than you think.

One bad habit that makes anxiety far worse than it needs to be is artificially limiting your options.  Often we only see a couple of alternatives.  Make sure that you look for other options.  People will tell themselves they have to get something done by a deadline or they’re going to lose their job. Only seeing those two options results in not making use of the many more options that might have resulted in a better outcome.  Besides not finishing the report or getting fired, you may also have the options of discussing the deadline with your boss or requesting additional help in completing the project on time.

If you make anxiety your friend you may find that it’s a wonderful teacher.

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

What is an Adjustment Like Disorder? (F43.9)

By David Joel Miller.

When is an adjustment disorder not an adjustment disorder?

What is? Series

What is an Adjustment Like Disorder?
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Sometimes people have symptoms as a result of experiencing trauma or stress.  These difficulties are sufficiently severe that we think this person needs treatment but the exact group of symptoms they have doesn’t quite fit a listed disorder.  The new DSM – 5 solves this problem by creating another name for adjustment like disorders.

Other Specified Trauma- and Stressor Related Disorders (F43.9)

This designation gives us five more ways to categorize problems of everyday living which were caused by stressors or trauma but do not quite neatly fit the defined adjustment disorders.  Below are the five reasons you might get an adjustment like disorder diagnosis.

1. You had a stressor but your problems did not begin until more than three months after the stressor.

2. There problems continue for more than six months even though the stressor has ended but your symptoms have not turned into another diagnosis.

3. You were having an “ataque de nervious.” This particular condition is listed in the back of the DSM – 5 under cultural concepts of distress. While not recognized in the United States as a mental disorder, this particular group of symptoms is widely recognized in Spanish-speaking countries.

4. Another cultural syndrome. There are a number of cultural syndromes that are recognized in a particular geographic or ethnic area.  The cultural syndromes are understood as an inability to cope with a particular stressor.

5. Persistent Complex Bereavement Disorder. This condition is listed in an appendix to the DSM under conditions for further study.  Since it didn’t make the list of official diagnoses, researchers needed a way to code it.  The result is this condition ended up here under adjustment like disorders.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen an adjustment like disorder listed in the person’s chart nor have I ever use this particular diagnoses myself.  But when I saw it was right there in the DSM-5 I just couldn’t resist letting you all know about this.  Maybe this illustrates how learning to diagnose mental illnesses is both an imprecise science and an area for continuing learning.

As with the other things we are calling a mental illness this adjustment like disorder needs to interfere with your ability to work or go to school, your relationships, your enjoyable activities or cause you personal distress. Otherwise you may have the issues but you will not get the diagnoses if this is not causing you a problem. If the only time this happens is when you are under the influence of drugs or medicines or because of some other physical or medical problem this issue needs to be more severe than your situation would warrant. These other issues may need treating first, then if you still have symptoms you could get this diagnosis.

FYI These “What is” sometimes “What are” posts are my efforts to explain terms commonly used in Mental Health, Clinical Counseling, Substance Use Disorder Counseling, Psychology, Life Coaching and related disciplines in a plain language way. Many are based on the new DSM-5; some of the older posts were based on the DSM-IV-TR, both published by the APA. For the more technical versions please consult the DSM or other appropriate references.

See Recommended Books.     More “What is” posts will be found at “What is.”

For more on this topic see Adjustment Disorders in the Trauma- and Stressor Related Disorders category.

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder PTSD?

By David Joel Miller.

Would you know PTSD if you experienced it?

What is? Series

PTSD
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

PTSD is something that we hear a lot about, but most people have only a general idea what it involves.  PTSD was first recognized in returning military veterans. It has since been recognized in children who were abused, in cases of domestic violence, as the result of sexual assaults as well as the result of other traumas. While each case of PTSD is unique, they have many features in common.  Many people with PTSD may also have one or more other psychiatric disorders, some of which are likely the result of traumatic incidents. Below is a list of the features that professionals use to identify PTSD.

PTSD involves a specific trauma.

Something has happened or there was a high risk it would happen.  This trauma involved death, possible serious bodily injury, or a sexual assault. This event needs to happen to you or someone close to you, not just be something you saw on the television.  This event was either violent or sudden and unexpected.

Also included in the definition of a trauma below, are the effects which dealing with the incident has on first responders or other emergency personnel.

This traumatic event keeps forcing its way back into your life.

Part of PTSD symptoms are the recurrent memories of the event.  You may have nightmares about what happened or things connected to that event.  Some people with PTSD experience spacing out or dissociation.  You may also experience flashbacks and in these times it can feel like the event is happening again.

These recurrent intrusive memories are easily triggered.  Both internal triggers, thoughts and feelings, and external triggers, people places and things, may bring back the memory.

People with PTSD try to avoid reminders.

There are all kinds of ways to avoid being reminded of something that has happened. You may avoid going to certain places or events. People may turn to drugs, alcohol or other distractions.  They may try to avoid having feelings, or other thoughts about the incident.

Sometimes the brain does this job for you.  You may find that there are periods of time for which you have no memory. Some people describe this as having a blackout or amnesia.  They may avoid activities which are in any way connected to these unpleasant memories.

Behavior changes when you experience Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

People with this disorder often become irritable and angry.  They may become either self-destructive or reckless.  Part of this condition is having an exaggerated startle response.  In the aftermath of the trauma people may develop poor concentration and impaired sleep.  Someone with PTSD may stop engaging in activities that used to be fun, they detach from others and may say that they just can’t feel happy.  These behavioral changes are also characteristic of depression, and the two disorders often occur together.

PTSD can cause cognitive changes.

In the aftermath of trauma, it is common for people to blame themselves.  They may tell themselves that if they hadn’t been there, or had been more careful, it would not have happened.  Negative thought patterns may develop.  People begin to feel bad about themselves, other people, and the future.  These cognitive changes can result in developing depression.

PTSD needs to last a while and not be something else.

This condition is expected to last more than a month after the stressor.  As with the other things we are calling a mental illness this needs to interfere with your ability to work or go to school, your relationships, your enjoyable activities or cause you personal distress. Otherwise you may have the issues but you will not get the diagnosis. If the only time this happens is when you are under the influence of drugs or medicines or because of some other physical or medical problem we’re likely to think this is something other than PTSD.

FYI These “What is” sometimes “What are” posts are my efforts to explain terms commonly used in Mental Health, Clinical Counseling, Substance Use Disorder Counseling, Psychology, Life Coaching and related disciplines in a plain language way. Many are based on the new DSM-5; some of the older posts were based on the DSM-IV-TR, both published by the APA. For the more technical versions please consult the DSM or other appropriate references.

For more on this topic see Trauma- and Stressor Related Disorders. 

See Recommended Books.     More “What is” posts will be found at “What is.”

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

What are the six types of Adjustment Disorders?

By David Joel Miller.

Adjustment Disorders include six types or specifiers.

What is? Series

What is an adjustment disorder specifier.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

In another post I wrote about adjustment disorders. You might want to take a look at that post.  You will find it in the trauma- and stressor related disorders category . But to briefly recap, an adjustment disorder is a time when you experience stress and that amount of stress is more than you can handle.

The kind of things that you might find stressful, and how that stress might affect you, can vary a great deal from one person to another.  Adjustment Disorder can be very chameleon like, changing from person to person and from time to time. As a result of this variation and in order to help find the correct treatment for each person, professionals use six different specifiers for various presentations of adjustment disorder.  Listed below are the six specifiers or sub-types of adjustment disorder that are listed in the new DSM – 5.

Adjustment Disorder with Depressed Mood (F43.21).

Sometimes in addition to having difficulty coping with a stressor, as a result of this life problem, people develop depression.  If this goes on long enough or is severe enough they might eventually get a diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder.  But until that happens treatment will mainly focus on the stressor and the depression that stressors is causing.

Adjustment Disorder with Anxiety (F43.22).

Sometimes the primary symptom that people experience when they are going through stress is an increase in their anxiety.  If this increase in anxiety is related to a specific stressor, is more severe than we expect or goes on too long, Adjustment Disorder with Anxiety is the likely problem.

Adjustment Disorder with both Depression and Anxiety (F43.23).

Anxiety and depression frequently happen to people at the same time.  If this stressor has produced both depression and anxiety, then this specifier should be added.

Adjustment Disorder with Conduct Problems (F43.24).

Sometimes the principle way we know that stress has affected somebody is that they begin to act in inappropriate ways.  This diagnosis with this specifier is most commonly seen in children who rather than show their symptoms as anxiety or depression, begin to act out.

Adjustment Disorder with Disturbance of Emotions and Conduct (F43.25).

When stress overcomes a person’s ability to cope, we may see changes both in their behavior and in their feelings.  This is often the case in children and adolescents but may also be seen in adults with poor emotional regulation.

Adjustment Disorder Unspecified (F43.20).

When the counselor knows that the problem the client has is caused by their reaction to stress but none of the other sub-types quite seem to fit, this category may be used.

As with the other things we are calling a mental illness this problem needs to interfere with your ability to work or go to school, your relationships, your enjoyable activities or cause you personal distress. Otherwise you may have the issues but you will not get the diagnoses if this is not causing you a problem. If the only time this happens is when you are under the influence of drugs or medicines or because of some other physical or medical problem, this problem needs to be more than your situation would warrant. These other issue needs treating first, then if you still have symptoms you could get this diagnosis.

FYI These “What is” sometimes “What are” posts are my efforts to explain terms commonly used in Mental Health, Clinical Counseling, Substance Use Disorder Counseling, Psychology, Life Coaching and related disciplines in a plain language way. Many are based on the new DSM-5; some of the older posts were based on the DSM-IV-TR, both published by the APA. For the more technical versions please consult the DSM or other appropriate references.

See Recommended Books.     More “What is” posts will be found at “What is.”

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

What are Adjustment Disorders?

By David Joel Miller.

You don’t have to be “crazy” to have a mental illness.

What is? Series

What is an adjustment disorder.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Sometimes bad things happen, and those difficulties in life can overwhelm you. When these things happen, often people get right back up, but if something bad has happened to you and you find that you can’t get back on track you might well have an Adjustment Disorder. Adjustment Disorders are the result of bad things happening to you.

Professionals need to be careful not to turn everything that could possibly happen to someone into some sort of mental disorder.  Beginning professionals are cautioned to avoid pathologizing their clients by being so sure everyone who comes to their office must have some kind of extreme mental disorder.

Stress affects everyone differently.

A particular stress, divorce for example, can have very different meaning for different people.  One person may become very depressed.  Another might become quite angry.  Some people may even be happy and throw a party.

We know that stress can be quite difficult to handle.  But if someone’s response is far beyond what we expect, then that excessive response gets diagnosed as adjustment disorder. To be diagnosed with an adjustment disorder your distress as a result of what happened has to be in excess of what we would normally expect.

Because of the large number of possible way stress might affect someone there are six specifiers or some types of adjustment disorder.

This inability to adjust can result in suicide.

Adjustment disorders have come to be recognized as serious mental health issues because of the high rate of suicide, homicide or other negative behavior that can occur in the aftermath of the stressor.  Things like a divorce, loss of the job, business failure or other negative events can overwhelm a person and exceed their ability to cope.

Adjustment disorder requires an identifiable trauma or stressor.

Just any difficulty coping with life does not get diagnosed as adjustment disorder. In this condition we know clearly that something specific happened in your life.  We call this the identified stressor. We expect to see the results of that experience start happening within three months of the original incident.  We also believe that adjustment disorder normally stops all by itself within six months of the time it began.

If you have a strong reaction to a stressor in the first month after the incident, we call that Acute Stress Disorder, a condition that usually resolves very shortly.

An Adjustment Disorder results in a change in your feelings or behavior.

As a result of this stressor people find their feelings overwhelming them.  That may become depressed, anxious or angry.  Not only are these feelings negative but they’re far beyond what would be useful.

People with Adjustment Disorders may begin behaving in ways that are just not normal for them.  That may be constantly angry, become violent or begin abusing drugs and alcohol.  Some develop other addictions.

People with an adjustment disorder are at high risk to become violent towards those they blame for their misfortune.

Bereavement is not the same as Adjustment Disorder.

Having someone close to you die is something everyone experiences sooner or later.  Mental health professionals see this loss of a loved one as quite different from Adjustment Disorder. While everyone needs to grieve in their own way, most people eventually get past the loss of a loved one.

In an Adjustment Disorder not being able to adjust damages your life.

As with the other things we are calling a mental illness this needs to interfere with your ability to work or go to school, your relationships, your enjoyable activities or cause you personal distress. Otherwise you may have the issues but you will not get the diagnoses if this is not interfering with your everyday life.  If the only time this happens is when under the influence of drugs or medicines or because of some other physical or medical problem this adjustment difficulty needs to be more than your situation would warrant. These other issue may need treating first, then if you still have symptoms you could get this diagnosis.

FYI These “What is” sometimes “What are” posts are my efforts to explain terms commonly used in Mental Health, Clinical Counseling, Substance Use Disorder Counseling, Psychology, Life Coaching and related disciplines in a plain language way. Many are based on the new DSM-5; some of the older posts were based on the DSM-IV-TR, both published by the APA. For the more technical versions please consult the DSM or other appropriate references.

See Recommended Books.     More “What is” posts will be found at “What is.”

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books