Coronavirus Adjustment Disorder (CAD)

What is Coronavirus Adjustment Disorder (CAD)?

The recent COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown can cause adjustment disorder which is a psychiatric condition and occurs as a result of a severe reaction to stress.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) describes adjustment disorder as

“the presence of emotional or behavioural symptoms in response to an identifiable stressor(s) occurring within 3 months of the onset of the stressor(s)” (American Psychiatric Association, 2013).

The increased risk of developing CAD during the COVID-19 pandemic has been acknowledged in the academic literature, and is supported by emerging research evidence.

A vast amount of people are struggling with the idea of getting back to normal and are lost as to what the new normal should be due to the pandemic. The recent stressful events have placed a large number of the population under a vast amount of stress, for a number of different reasons.

Superdrug recently surveyed 3000 customers and found that 43 per cent of people feel anxious about restrictions being lifted and 21 per cent of the population surveyed feel insecure about being sociable again.

Researchers have warned that we may be facing a “perfect storm” of misery that has the potential to impact people’s mental health for years to come.

Signs & Symptoms of CAD (Coronavirus Adjustment Disorder).

If you have noticed that your behaviour has changed and your feelings are interfering with your day to day life you may have developed CAD. Here are some of the signs and symptoms to be aware of, however; symptoms do vary from person to person and you may have other symptoms that are not listed below: -

· Lack of energy or difficulty concentrating

· Not wanting to see people

· Sleep problems, such as sleeping more or less than usual, difficulty waking up and getting out of bed in the morning, difficulty falling or staying asleep

· Feeling sad, low, tearful, guilty or hopeless

· Changes in your appetite, for example feeling hungrier or wanting more


· Being more prone to physical health problems, such as colds, infections or other illnesses

· Lockdown worry

· Losing interest in sex or physical contact

· Suicidal feelings

· Feeling anxious, agitated or unusually angry

· Unmotivated and overly stressed

· Feeling as though you do not belong and not wanting to socialise

· Working too hard or having developed unhealthy work patterns

· Symptoms are recent, developing within the last 3 months or since the lockdown measures were put in place.

Facing Stigma

CAD can affect people at any point in time and it is important not to wait to see a definitive pattern before you seek help and support. Some people excel in times of change however for the vast majority of individuals we tend to form strong attachments to situations, routines, places and people. These anchors serve to reassure, orientate and help us to function effectively day to day. When everything becomes uncertain and we lose these anchors it is naturally going to impact on our ability to cope. We are left feeling insecure and disorientated and our emotional and psychological well-being is disrupted.

It is important to remember you are not alone. Your loved ones may not understand how you are feeling or the impact this is having on you. It is very important that you seek help and there are a number of ways that help is available to you on a confidential basis.

Treatment of CAD

Talk to someone; It can be hard to reach out when you're not feeling well, but it might help to share how you're feeling. If you don't feel you can talk to the people around you or you need additional support, reach out to a Psychological Counsellor, Mental Health Nurse, your GP or helplines and listening services such as MIND, Samaritans and SANELine.

Practical Day to Day Tips – 6 helpful steps.

1. Stay in Touch – As hard as it is, don’t allow yourself to withdraw from life. Socialising can improve your mood and there are a number of ways you can do this either via telephone, social media, skype, face time. Having friends and family to talk to when you feel low is extremely important.

2. Be Active – Take up some form of exercise. Evidence suggests that exercise can help lift your mood. Start with a gentle walk avoiding peak times such as the 5 o’clock rush hour. Alternatively try some of the home workout routines available on the internet.

3. Face your Fears – Try not to avoid the things you find difficult, facing up to these situations will help them become easier. Start small and work your way up.

4. Don’t drink too much Alcohol – Some people may drink alcohol as a form of hiding or coping with how you really feel. Alcohol will not solve your problems and can become a problem.

5. Try to eat a Healthy Diet – Be realistic. Just try to cut out some of the unhealthy snacks at first instead of drastically overhauling your normal diet which will become difficult to maintain. Alternatively, if you are not eating enough try to set a daily meal plan for yourself and ensure you are not skipping on meals.

6. Have a Routine – Routines are important for every individual and can make a difference to how we perceive and feel about the outcome of each day. Getting up at a certain time each day and going to bed at a reasonable time enables us to keep some form of structure for the day ahead. Writing a to do list the day before also helps in keeping us focused and on task.

Recovery from CAD

If you have no previous history of mental health or psychological wellbeing issues and have access to a stable social support system then recovery is extremely likely and achievable. If you don’t, the first step is to seek the support of a professional that can help and support you during this difficult time.

If you can relate to the above blog or you are concerned about the well-being of a family member or friend please feel free to get in touch with me confidentially for further advice and support: -

John Bromfield

Qualified Mental Health Nurse, Psychological Counsellor, CBT / Wellbeing Coach.



Tel: John Bromfield on 07946299376

If contacting me directly is difficult for you or if you are looking for support for a friend or loved one, please feel free to drop me a message / text or email on the ‘confidential’ details above. I promise, I will get back to you straight away on your preferred method of communication. I am happy to contact you at any time, on any day that best suits you.


The opinions expressed in this blog are my own views, and I have based my review on my personal and professional experience as a mental health nurse for the past 30 years. I urge anyone experiencing 'signs and symptoms' identified within this blog to seek medical help and support.

All the content in this blog is completely original; it has not been inspired by, nor is it based on any other blog post, magazine article, nor any book, and therefore I regret any resemblance with any of the aforementioned, and would like to assure you that it was unintentional.


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