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Life Transitions and Adjustment

A life transition is any change or adjustment that impacts your life. We all experience life transitions.


Some transitions feel like positive change, like starting your dream job or a new romantic relationship that feels right. Other life transitions might feel stressful or depressing, like the death of a loved one, being fired from a job, or a break up. Still other might include mixed feelings, like having a child or retiring where you could feel excitement but the amount of change involved could lead to distress, anxiety, or depression.


When things change around us and we have to change, we might feel out of control, angry or resentful, anxious, depressed, or a host of other feelings.


An adjustment disorder can occur when a life stressor disrupts your typical functioning. The adjustment disorder often develops within three months of the transition and might include depressed mood, no longer feeling interested in activities you used to enjoy, anxiety, appetite changes, feeling overwhelmed, and/or problems with sleep.

Adjusting to Life Transitions


Some examples of experiences that might lead to challenging life transitions are:

  • Death of a loved one

  • Empty nesting

  • Divorce or break up

  • A new relationship

  • Adjustment to a new job or school

  • Blending families

  • Having/adopting a new child

  • A new medical diagnosis for you or a loved one

  • Questioning sexual or gender identity



When adjusting to a life transition feels challenging or stressful or leads to depression, anxiety, or other symptoms, it can be helpful to talk about those feelings and the changes you are experiencing and develop a plan forward.  

Therapy to help you through a life transition might involve developing or honing coping skills, improving stress reduction strategies, challenging or changing thoughts that are not helpful (Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy), and possibly grieving the losses the transition brings. Therapy is a supportive and unbiased environment for you to process a life transition. 

*Go back to Therapy Services.

Dr. Annie Bollini        Licensed Psychologist        202-696-2277
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