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Adjustment Disorders 

Adjustment Disorders
Adjustment Disorders
Psycho-Oncology (3 ed.)

Madeline Li

, Sarah Hales

, and Gary Rodin


Adjustment disorder (AD) refers to a condition in which an individual reacts to an identifiable stressor with disproportionate symptoms and behaviors. Now included in the DSM-5 in the category of trauma and stress-related disorders, it is the most commonly diagnosed psychiatric disorder in cancer patients, but also the most problematic in terms of its conceptualization and evidence base. There has been debate about the specificity of the diagnostic criteria, and concern that it constitutes the medicalization of distress that then may be treated unnecessarily with psychopharmacological interventions. However, evidence suggests that categorization of distress as AD may allow it to be appropriately targeted by interventions aimed at prevention or treatment. This chapter focuses on the validity and utility of the concept of and diagnostic criteria for AD and will review the available evidence base regarding treatment of this disorder in cancer patients.

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