The spectrum of adjustment disorders: Too broad to be clinically helpful
Department of Psychology, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy. CNS spectrums
(Impact Factor: 2.71).
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.
Available from: Yong-Ku Kim
- "While the concept of ADJ has evolved from Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM)-I to DSM-IV-text revision (TR), criticism for the validity of the diagnosis of ADJ has always existed.4-6 ADJ, as a kind of subthreshold disorder, is poorly defined and overlaps with other diagnostic categories. Both the DSM-IV1 and the International Classification of Diseases (ICD)-107 attempt to overcome this problem by specifying that if the criteria for another disorder are met, then the diagnosis of ADJ should not be made. "
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ABSTRACT: Adjustment disorder (ADJ) is a common diagnosis. However, it is difficult to distinguish ADJ from other major Axis I disorders, such as major depressive disorder (MDD). The aim of this study was to determine the distinguishing neurophysiological characteristics between ADJ and MDD using quantitative analysis of an electroencephalogram (QEEG).
The study included 30 patients with ADJ and 51 patients with MDD. Resting (eye closed) vigilance controlled EEG recordings were assessed at 19 electrode sites according to the international 10/20 system. QEEG absolute power and coherence were calculated for the delta, theta, alpha and beta bandwidths.
Absolute powers of alpha and high beta bands, particularly at the frontocentral area, differed between MDD and ADJ group (p<0.05). Interhemispheric coherence values for the delta and beta bands were lower in the ADJ group than in the MDD group (p<0.05). Intrahemispheric coherence values for the alpha band were also lower in the ADJ group (p<0.05).
The differences in QEEG power and coherence in our investigation suggest that underlying pathophysiologic mechanisms may be different between ADJ and MDD.
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ABSTRACT: The concept of allostasis emphasizes that healthy functioning requires continual adjustments to the internal physiological milieu. Allostatic load reflects the cumulative effects of stressful experiences in daily life. When the cost of chronic exposure to fluctuating or heightened neural or neuroendocrine responses exceeds the coping resources of an individual, allostatic overload ensues. So far these issues have been addressed only on pathophysiological terms that do not find application in clinical settings. However, several features that have been described in psychosomatic research may allow the assessment of allostatic load on clinical grounds. Clinimetric criteria for the determination of allostatic overload are suggested. They are based on: (a) the presence of a stressor exceeding individual coping skills, and (b) clinical manifestations of distress. They may provide specification to the fourth axis of DSM, may supplement the Diagnostic Criteria for Psychosomatic Research, and may help discriminate neuroendocrine patterns with important clinical and research implications. A state of allostatic overload is frequently associated with alterations in biological markers and calls for a close medical evaluation of the patient's condition. The ultimate goal is to be able to prevent or decrease the negative impact of excessive stress on health.
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ABSTRACT: The aim of this study was to examine the prevalence of comorbid mental disorders as well as the extent of psychosocial distress in patients with intracranial tumours and their partners during the early treatment phase. Moreover, we aimed to identify which events are experienced as most distressing in the context of the early diagnosis of brain cancer by patients and spouses.
Structured clinical interviews for DSM-IV (SCID-IV) were conducted with 26 patients and their partners after the first neurosurgical treatment within the first 3 months after the detection of a brain tumour. Screening measures (NCCN distress thermometer, HADS, IES-R) were used to assess the extent of psychosocial distress as well as anxiety, depression and traumatic stress responses. Distressing experiences were assessed via a structured questionnaire and interview.
Thirty-eight per cent of the patients and 47% of the partners suffered from a psychiatric disorder. Most frequent diagnoses were adjustment disorder and acute stress disorder. The majority of the participants suffered from elevated psychosocial distress. Partners were equally or even more affected than the patients. For the patients, the experience most frequently described as distressing was the first detection of the tumour. The majority of the partners reported to be distressed by the fear of surgery outcomes.
This study revealed that during this very first treatment phase, both brain tumour patients and their spouses show a high prevalence of comorbid mental disorders and psychosocial distress. The findings suggest that research and clinical efforts are needed to address the psychosocial concerns of these populations.
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