Difference Between Adjustment Disorder and Acute Stress Disorder (With Table)

Adjustment Disorder and Acute Stress Disorder are stress-related conditions. When a particular person encounters stress, it can be useful sometimes and help the growth of your body processes. But when this surge of energy or focus arises from a more common area such as your routine workload or the peers you are working with or even a decision-making situation, then it can lead to stress-related disorders.

Adjustment Disorder vs Acute Stress Disorder

The main difference between Adjustment disorder and acute stress order is that Adjustment disorder occurs when an individual has a hard time adjusting to the situation around oneself, whereas Acute stress disorder is seen in a person when he or she is experiencing or being confronted with one or more traumatic events.

When an individual has difficulty in coping with the environment around him or her. It can even be wrapping one’s mind around relationship-related issues or work-related issues and even the death of a near and dear one. It is when a person is not capable of adjusting to that stressful event in his or her life.

Acute Stress Disorder is a post-traumatic stress-related condition when a person might experience symptoms similar to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). But unlike PTSD Acute Stress Disorder is a temporary condition. It can be caused by any traumatic incident in an individual’s life. Traumatic incidents like the death of a loved one, natural disasters, sexual assault, or surviving a brain injury can cause Acute Stress Disorder.

Comparison Table Between Adjustment Disorder and Acute Stress Disorder

Parameters of ComparisonsAdjustment DisorderAcute Stress Disorder
MeaningAdjustment Disorder is when an individual experiences difficulty in adjusting to a particular environment.Acute Stress Disorder is a post-traumatic condition when a person might experience symptoms similar to PTSD.
SymptomsAnxiousness, suicidal thoughts, rebellious actions, crying, fatigue, insomniaFeeling numb, detached, dissociative amnesia, derealization
CausesMajor life changes, sudden disasters, money troubles, school-related problemsDeath, serious injury to oneself, sexual assault, natural disasters
TreatmentsTherapy, interpersonal psychotherapy, support groups, medicationHypnotherapy, psychiatric evaluation, Cognitive-behavioural therapy
TimeIf treated properly it does not last more than six monthsIt can last for at least three days and even last up to a month

What is Adjustment Disorder?

Any individual can develop Adjustment Disorder. A person diagnosed with Adjustment Disorder tends to feel alone hopeless and sad. Crying is also one of the symptoms of Adjustment Disorder.

The other symptoms include fatigue, indigestion, withdrawn attitude and lack of concentration. A person experiencing Adjustment Disorder may also have low self-esteem and may also tend to have suicidal thoughts.

There are different types of Adjustment Disorder such as Adjustment Disorder with depressed mood, Adjustment Disorder with Anxiety, Adjustment Disorder with mixed anxiety and depressed mood, Adjustment Disorder with disturbance of conduct, Adjustment Disorder unspecified.

Recovering from Adjustment Disorder can be good and quick if it is treated properly. Adjustment Disorder does not usually last more than six months. However, there is no way to prevent the disorder. But it can be treated by therapy and medications.

What is Acute Stress Disorder?

Acute Stress Disorder is a stress-related condition that usually occurs within a month after a traumatic event has taken place in one’s life. The time it lasts varies from person to person, It can last as few as three days and can even extend up to a month.

After month doctors start diagnosing the patient for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The symptoms that are experienced by Acute Stress Disorder patients are the same that are experienced by PTSD patients.

After a traumatic event, any person can develop an ASD. But an individual is more at risk of experiencing ASD if he or she was diagnosed with ASD or PTSD earlier, or has a history of mental illness.

Having trouble sleeping being unable to sit still or being startled too easily is one of the factors that shows a potential increase in stress which can further develop into an Acute Stress Disorder.

There is no way of actually preventing Acute stress disorder. Doing the things that one is interested in can relieve one of the stresses, as it helps one to distract from the traumatic occurrence. Thus, helping to reduce the likelihood of Acute Stress Disorder.

Main Differences Between Adjustment Disorder and Acute Stress Disorder

  1. Difficulty in adjusting to the environment around oneself is called Adjustment Disorder, on the other hand dealing with a post-traumatic event is called Acute Stress Disorder.
  2. The various symptoms of adjustment disorder are anxiousness, fatigue, insomnia, and suicidal thoughts. The symptoms of Acute Stress Disorder have detached dissociated feelings, numbness, or derealization.
  3.  Adjustment disorders can be treated by support groups, interpersonal psychotherapy, and medications like benzodiazepines and gabapentin. Acute Stress Disorder can be treated by hypnotherapy and cognitive behavioural therapy.
  4. The main causes of Adjustment Disorder can be major life changes, sudden disasters, money troubles and school-related problems. The main causes of Acute Stress Disorders are the death of loved ones, threats or even serious injuries to oneself.
  5. Adjustment Disorder can last up to six months whereas Acute Stress Disorder lasts from three days to a month.


Adjustment Disorder and Acute Stress Disorder are both stress-related disorders. The difference between the two conditions is evident enough but for their treatment, a patient can resolve to common solutions like support groups, cognitive behavioural therapy.

Both mental illnesses take a toll on the physical health of an individual. People suffering from Adjustment Disorder may experience insomnia, muscle twitches, indigestion and fatigue. People diagnosed with Acute Stress Disorders can experience difficulty in concentrating on a particular thing, being irritable and also being tensed constantly.

Having a stress-free life is highly unlikely. Hence, one should make sure that he or she should keep their stress levels under control and take time out, do exercises and stay fit, healthy and happy.


  1. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2000-07311-007
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0165032717315112