The spectrum of adjustment disorders: too broad to be clinically helpful.
ABSTRACT The clinical value of the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders diagnosis of adjustment disorder is controversial. The aim of this article is to review the literature on adjustment disorder and to present suggestions for the improvement of this diagnostic category in future classification systems. The literature utilized for this review was retrieved by MEDLINE (1967 until May 2009) and was supplemented by a manual search of the literature. The analysis of the literature indicates that the diagnosis of adjustment disorder is not characterized by consistent clinical description and prognosis, adequate differentiation from other disorders, or specific psychometric and neurobiologic features. The spectrum of affective disturbances entailed by the diagnosis of adjustment disorder appears to be too broad. A major problem seems to lie in the fact that it is an exclusion diagnosis that overlaps with subthreshold manifestations of mood and anxiety disorders. More precise characterizations of stress-related disturbances are available.
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ABSTRACT: Background and Objectives: There is increasing interest in the issue of demoralization, particularly in the setting of medical disease. The aim of this investigation was to use both DSM-IV comorbidity and the Diagnostic Criteria for Psychosomatic Research (DCPR) in order to characterize demoralization in the medically ill. Methods: 1700 patients were recruited from 8 medical centers in the Italian Health System and 1560 agreed to participate. They all underwent a cross-sectional assessment with DSM-IV and DCPR structured interviews. 373 patients (23.9%) received a diagnosis of demoralization. Data were submitted to cluster analysis. Results: Four clusters were identified: demoralization and comorbid depression; demoralization and comorbid somatoform/adjustment disorders; demoralization and comorbid anxiety; demoralization without any comorbid DSM disorder. The first cluster included 27.6% of the total sample and was characterized by the presence of DSM-IV mood disorders (mainly major depressive disorder). The second cluster had 18.2% of the cases and contained both DSM-IV somatoform (particularly, undifferentiated somatoform disorder and hypochondriasis) and adjustment disorders. In the third cluster (24.7%), DSM-IV anxiety disorders in comorbidity with demoralization were predominant (particularly, generalized anxiety disorder, agoraphobia, panic disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder). The fourth cluster had 29.5% of the patients and was characterized by the absence of any DSM-IV comorbid disorder. Conclusions: The findings indicate the need of expanding clinical assessment in the medically ill to include the various manifestations of demoralization as encompassed by the DCPR. Subtyping demoralization may yield improved targets for psychosomatic research and treatment trials.European Journal of Psychiatry 03/2013; 27(1):7-17. · 0.46 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Background and Objectives: The objectives of the manuscript are: (a) to review the understanding of demoralization and its assessment; (b) to describe its clinical progression; (c) to explain the differences between demoralization and other form of psychological distress; (d) to propose a set of criteria for future research on demoralization. Methods: A MEDLINE search using the keywords distress, subjective incompetence, depression, demoralization, helplessness, hopelessness and psychopathology was conducted. This was supplemented by a manual search of the literature. Results: Demoralization can be distinguished from passing or transient distress, non-specific distress, sub-threshold depression or anxiety, and certain mental disorders. Demoralization can be a risk factor for the manifestation of psychopathology, the prodromal phase of a mental disorder, or a trigger for exacerbation or recurrence of psychiatric distress symptoms. The domains of distress and demoralization are described and research diagnostic criteria for demoralization are presented. Conclusions: The scales discussed in this article differ in their time frames and have not yet been applied to the same population at the same time. The role of demoralization as a risk factor for mental disorders is just beginning to be understood. The domains and the diagnostic criteria for demoralization presented in this article need to be confirmed by epidemiological and empirical studies. Future research should continue to clarify its role in the pathogenesis of both mental disorders and physical illnesses and identify appropriate interventions for its arrest or prevention.European Journal of Psychiatry 03/2013; 27(1):61-73. · 0.46 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Background: Demoralization has been described as a psychological state characterized by helplessness, hopelessness, a sense of failure and the inability to cope. Methods: We conducted a systematic review with qualitative data analysis following PRISMA criteria with the following aims: to review validated assessment instruments of the demoralization syndrome, report main findings regarding demoralization as measured by validated instruments that emerge in the literature, compare and report evidence for the clinical utility of the identified instruments. Utilizing the key word ‘demoralization’ in PubMed and PsycINFO databases, an electronic search was performed, supplemented by Web of Science and manual searches. Study selection criteria included the assessment of medical patients and use of instruments validated to assess demoralization. Seventy-four studies were selected. Results: Four instruments emerged in the literature. Main findings concern prevalence rates of demoralization, evidence of discriminant validity from major depression, factors associated with demoralization and evidence of clinical utility. The instruments vary in their definition, the populations they aim to assess, prevalence rates they estimate and their ability to discriminate between different conditions. Nonetheless, demoralization appears to be a distinctive psychological state characterized by helplessness, hopelessness, giving up and subjective incompetence. It is not limited to life-threatening diseases such as cancer, but may occur in any type of clinical situation. It is associated with stress and adverse health outcomes. Conclusions: Studies addressing the incremental value of demoralization in psychiatry and psychology are needed. However, demoralization appears to entail specific clinical features and may be a distinct condition from major depression.Psychological Medicine 07/2014; · 5.43 Impact Factor