Life stressors associated with COVID-19 could lead to high rates of adjustment disorder, a serious mental health condition which cannot be overlooked amidst the pandemic. Research findings in this area should be applied to help populations on a large scale.
Kazlauskas, E. & Quero, S. Adjustment and Coronavirus: How to Prepare for COVID19 Pandemic-Related Adjustment Disorder Worldwide? Psychological Trauma (2020). https://doi.org/10.1037/tra0000706
18 June 2020
Adjustment disorder is a serious condition that is associated with a higher risk of suicide. It is defined as a stress response to significant and identifiable life stressors, presenting as two core symptoms: (1) preoccupation with a stressor, and (2) failure to adapt following the stressor. The COVID-19 pandemic is a worldwide health crisis, but also has extreme social and economic implications which cannot be overlooked. The majority of people may not become sick with COVID-19 directly, but have likely experienced other major life stressors such as job loss, financial insecurity, etc. Adjustment disorder may therefore be a common consequence of the pandemic on people’s mental health, since the high rate of adjustment problems are likely to continue long after a vaccine or effective treatment becomes available for COVID-19. It is important to ensure proper psychological support for individuals with adjustment disorder throughout the coronavirus pandemic and beyond. New self-report measures for adjustment disorder have recently been developed, and could be useful for screening large populations to help identify the most vulnerable. Online health interventions have been developed to help target adjustment disorder symptoms and it is important for mental health professionals, policy makers and health-care systems to put these systems to use to help populations on a large scale.
Summary by: Caroline Gregory