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Abrupt life changes

Abrupt life changes can trigger short-term depression, anxiety, and changes in behavior. Some of the types of stressors that can trigger changes include the following:

Ending of a relationship or marriage.
Death of a loved one.
Loss or changing of a job.
Developing a serious illness.
Being a victim of a crime.
Having a serious accident.
The arrival of a new child.
Living through a disaster such as a fire, flood, or Hurricane.

The types of life events can result in adjustment disorders. Adjustment disorders create emotional and behavioral symptoms, which begin within three months of the event and can last for longer than six months. The reaction to the stressor is more intense than what is typically expected for the situation, and the symptoms can cause problems with a person's ability to function. A person who is experiencing an adjustment disorder can have episodes of acute anxiety and worry, headaches, stomach aches, and acute sadness. Abrupt life changes are associated with an increased use of alcohol or other drugs, problems with sleep, loss of appetite or over eating, and dangerous risk taking behavior such as reckless driving and unusual aggressiveness. Abrupt life changes can lead to adjustment disorders throughout a persons lifetime. However, we are most vulnerable during adolescence and mid life transition.

Treatment for abrupt life changes

The most common forms of treatment for adjustment disorders include psychotherapy and medication for anxiety and depression. Therapy helps the individual understand how the stressor has affected his life, how to increase social support and develop more robust coping skills.

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