Overcome Situational Depression

Situational Depression

Author: Pin Ng    Reviewed: Michael Por
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Key Takeaways

  • Situational depression is a short-term type of depression related to stress

  • Symptoms include lack of energy, feeling sad, sleep problems, frequent crying, anxiety & lack of concentration

  • Situational depression is usually triggered by major life events

  • Therapy and Counseling can help individuals cope with stressful life situations

  • If situational depression is not treated it can turn into a more serious condition

Situational Depression Definition


Situational depression is a short-term type of depression and mental health disorder that is related to stress. This type of depression can affect a person and cause a variety of physical and mental health issues.


One of the main aspects of situational depression is how it develops. It occurs after a person undergoes a traumatic event or events. Situational depression is often known as an adjustment disorder. People may struggle to adjust to life after a traumatic event occurs.


Sufferers may suddenly be unable to adapt to everyday life following the episode that created the depression. Situational depression is also called reactive depression because sufferers are reacting to life events.


Situational Depression vs Clinical Depression


People who suffer from situational depression can trace the mental health disorder back to an event. For example, the death of a loved one could trigger situational depression. An individual may struggle to accept the loss of a loved one. If a person is unable to accept the passing, they may not be able to move on.


The good news is that recovery from situational depression is possible. Once a person accepts or comes to terms with the event, or can live life after the event occurred, they can oftentimes move on with their lives in a positive way.


It may take support or grief counseling to come to terms with a traumatic event and individuals may need to speak with a therapist, attend a support group, or go to one-to-one therapy to recover. It may take time, but recovery is possible.


Clinical depression may occur due to an imbalance of chemicals in the brain. Along with major life events, clinical depression can be caused by genetic factors. Alcohol and drug abuse may also play a major role in this type of major depression.


The major differences between situational and clinical depression will determine the treatment an individual undergoes. The severity of the condition will also play a role in the treatment.


Differences in symptoms for situational and clinical depression


The symptoms that all types of depression sufferers experience can be different, and the type of symptoms a person has can identify which type of depression they have.


Situational Depressive Disorder Symptoms


  • A lack of energy and enthusiasm
  • Feeling hopeless and sad
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Episodes of crying that occur frequently
  • Anxiety and worry that has no focus
  • A lack of concentration
  • Withdrawal from activities previously enjoyed
  • Withdrawal from family and friends
  • Suicidal thoughts


Situational depressive states are not as severe as clinical depression. It has a starting point or event that causes it. Clinical depression doesn’t necessarily have a starting point that can be spotted.


Clinical Depression Symptoms


  • Depressed mood
  • Loss of interest in hobbies or activities that were previously enjoyed
  • A change in sleep habits in which a person sleeps too much or not enough
  • Feelings of guilt and/or worthlessness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Low energy and fatigue
  • Restlessness
  • Muscle Aches
  • Slowed movements
  • Anxiety
  • A change in appetite or a decrease or increase in body weight
  • Suicidal thoughts or a suicide attempt
  • Thoughts of death


Individuals may also experience headaches, pain, and digestive problems. These issues have no physical cause and do not improve despite having treatment. Delusions, psychotic disturbances, and hallucinations may also occur11.R. M. A. Hirschfeld, Situational Depression: Validity of the Concept | The British Journal of Psychiatry | Cambridge Core, Cambridge Core.; Retrieved September 18, 2022, from https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/the-british-journal-of-psychiatry/article/abs/situational-depression-validity-of-the-concept/B6F7CD46C205D3A08866E7973644548C. These issues are not common in people with situational depression.


How Many People does Depression Affect?


An estimated 21 million adults (people aged over 18 years old) in the United States had at least one major depressive episode in 2020. The number of people experiencing depressive episodes in the US represented 8.4% of all adults in the country.


Depression is a major issue for people, not just in America, but around the world. According to WHO, an estimated 5% of people over the age of 18 are affected by the mental health disorder in the world. The numbers show that no matter where a person lives, depression doesn’t discriminate against ethnicity, gender, or location.

Treatment for depression caused by situations


The issues presented by situational depressive episodes can make everyday life difficult. Getting help from a medical professional can improve situational depression. Individuals can begin doing activities once more with treatment.


Undergoing treatment will enable a person to cope better with stressful episodes and events. Treatment for situational caused depression includes medications such as bupropion, selective serotonin uptake inhibitors, citalopram, and sertraline22.R. James, Situational depression and the dexamethasone suppression test, Situational depression and the dexamethasone suppression test – ScienceDirect.; Retrieved September 18, 2022, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/0306453083900240.


In addition to medications, psychotherapy can help a person cope with the events that caused the situational depressive episode. Psychotherapy can also help individuals learn to cope with stressful life situations in the future. Coping mechanisms can be reinforced.


By reinforcing coping mechanisms and building up resilience, sufferers can take future challenges head-on. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can help a person avoid future bouts of situational depressive disorder.


A person can make lifestyle alterations once undergoing therapy. Lifestyle changes can make coping and recovery work even better.


Some lifestyle changes that help situational depressive disorder include:


  • Exercise four to five days a week for a minimum of 30 minutes
  • Building healthy sleeping habits
  • Experiencing more rest and relaxation time
  • Eating more healthy foods
  • Building a stronger social support network
  • Practicing meditation, mindfulness, or yoga to calm the mind and reduce stress
  • Limiting or avoiding drug and alcohol use


These healthy life habits can help an individual suffering from situational depression to get better and enjoy life to its fullest once more.


If depression is not adequately addressed and treated, it can turn into a more serious condition. Situational depressive episodes can be short-lived, but not treating it can cause it to spiral out of control.


Self-medication is not recommended as it could make situational and clinical depression worse. The first step to getting better is to acknowledge the problem and then contact a mental healthcare professional for help.


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Next: The Vagus Nerve

  • 1
    1.R. M. A. Hirschfeld, Situational Depression: Validity of the Concept | The British Journal of Psychiatry | Cambridge Core, Cambridge Core.; Retrieved September 18, 2022, from https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/the-british-journal-of-psychiatry/article/abs/situational-depression-validity-of-the-concept/B6F7CD46C205D3A08866E7973644548C
  • 2
    2.R. James, Situational depression and the dexamethasone suppression test, Situational depression and the dexamethasone suppression test – ScienceDirect.; Retrieved September 18, 2022, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/0306453083900240
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