The Club reports a case of a crew member recently repatriated following a period of insomnia and heart palpitations.
Upon returning home, the crew member was examined by physicians and diagnosed with Adjustment Disorder. Adjustment Disorder is a very common short-term psychological condition that occurs when a person is unable to cope with a stressor or a recurrent event causing stress to the individual. Adjustment Disorder may manifest with depressed mood, anxiety, maladaptive behaviours causing significant impairment in social, occupational or personal functioning. It is associated with a high risk of suicide (Casey et.al.2014). Therefore, assessment of Adjustment Disorder should include careful monitoring of both symptomatology and suicidal thinking.
In identifying stressors on board, many seafarers report separation from their families and friends, loneliness, high workloads, shift work, long working hours, limited recreational time, multicultural and multilingual crews as some of the greatest challenges. Stress and anxiety are normal responses to major life changes and stressors. However, when the discomfort, distress, turmoil and anguish to the person are significant, Adjustment Disorder may be the source of the distress.
Signs and symptoms
Symptoms vary and can include the following, usually occurring within three months of the introduction of the stressor, and can cause significant impairment in social, occupational or personal functioning:
Personal management tips for individuals
Personal Empowerment is the key to personal adjustment and happiness
Organisational management tips for employers
Adjustment Disorder is an excessive reaction to an identifiable life stressor or recurrent stressors. A substantial amount of research suggests that psychosocial risk factors such as high job demands, low job control, high effort – low reward and low social support may contribute to the development of depression and anxiety. Organisations can implement interventions that aim to prevent exposure to psychological and physical risk factors and thus reduce the risk for mental disorders. Adjustment Disorder can be prevented via proactive methods and strategies.
It is important to encourage culture and team cohesiveness onboard to facilitate adjustment, empower employees and promote well-being at sea. Educate employees in acquiring appropriate communication skills, building supportive social networks onboard, and encouraging behavioural well-being can lessen distress arising from stressors.
Empower employees by encouraging active coping skills, communication skills, building supportive social networks onboard and implement resiliency training. Work health can improve employee well-being, performance and safety onboard.
This advice was compiled with the help of our psychological and psychometric screening partners I.M.E.Q.
You can watch their video on Adjustment Disorders at www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZdqYDPqHh64 www.imeq-center.com/