Adjustment Disorder (Child)

Most children learn to cope with stressful situations such as the start of school, parents’ divorce, the death of a pet, or moving. They may take several months, but the child does adjust. However, if a child continues to feel stressed, hopeless, or worried without relief, the condition is called an adjustment disorder. Symptoms may include sadness, anxiety and feeling hopeless among others. 

Treatment of the disorder can help and depends on how severe the disorder is. Medicine may be given for depression or anxiety. Counseling or talk therapy can provide emotional support and teach healthy coping skills.

Home care

Medicine: The healthcare provider may prescribe medicine for your child. Follow the healthcare provider's instructions when giving these medicines to your child.

General care:

  • Keep communication open with your child. Encourage your child to talk about his or her feelings. Offer support and understanding.

  • Reassure your child that such reactions are common.

  • Stay in contact with your child’s teacher. Check on your child’s progress or problems at school. Ask for help from the school psychologist if the concerning behaviors don't decrease.

  • Allow your child to make simple decisions, such as what to eat for dinner, so he or she can feel more in control.

  • Encourage a healthy diet and a regular sleep routine.

  • Encourage your child to be physically active every day.

Follow- up care

Follow up with your child's healthcare provider or as advised.

Special notes to parents

Help your child find his or her own ways to cope with stress. Regular exercise, yoga, meditation, or even being with friends may help.

Call 911

Call 911 if your child is suicidal, has a clear suicide plan, and has the means to carry the plan out. Don't leave your child alone.

When to seek medical advice

Contact your healthcare provider right away if any of the following occur:

  • Continuing or worsening symptoms, or new symptoms

  • Threats of suicide or self-harm

  • Alcohol or drug use

  • You feel overwhelmed by your child's behaviors or your ability to manage them.

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