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Situational Depression: Do you have it?
Situational depression, also called reactive depression and frequently diagnosed as adjustment disorder with depression, is depression that can be connected to a particular situation. It is a commonly diagnosed form of depression. It isn’t reasonable to expect you will be happy all the time, and many of us experience symptoms of depression throughout our lives. Adjustment disorders are generally considered more common and short term although they can be chronic with longer lasting stress.
For example, if you lose your job, and you are unemployed, and you cant pay your bills, it seems reasonable that you might experience depression. To be diagnosed with this must have symptoms that are considered more than reasonable, or demonstrate noticeable impairment in their work, school, or social environment.
We would expect that this depression would resolve itself at some point after you get a job, and usually this kind of depression does. However, situational depression can lead to a more long lasting depression, and can at times be the trigger for a major depressive disorder, one that is more long lasting and has more of a biological piece to it.
What are some situations that may be triggers?
Loss of any kind can be a trigger for a situational depression. For example women who have children leave home and go away to college may experience a kind of adjustment related depression we call the “empty nest syndrome.”
Loss of home or move ( for example and elderly person to a nursing home).
Loss of friendships, family relationship, or other social relationship
Loss of job through retirement or unemployment.
Loss of role. Such as in the case of retirement or in the empty nest syndrome.
Financial stress and strain especially in this economy can be a source of this kind depression. I know people who have been out of work for two years. Often time what began as something to be adjusted to can evolve into a longer lasting diagnosis.
Relationship stress can be a contributing trigger. Divorce, problems in your marriage, or stress and problems with your family can all be issues that trigger a situational depression.
Aging and all the different adjustments that come along with this. For women and men different aging issues may prompt their depression.
Illness or Medical Problems. Any kind of chronic disease, health problem or diagnosis can cause a and adjustment kind of depression.
Does Depression related to a situation require treatment?
Too often people who could benefit from therapy do not seek it because they think it will pass or there reactions are normal. Depression is something that I consider normal and is experienced by almost everyone at some point in their lives. That however, does no mean that you can't benefit from help dealing with the situation that is causing your distress. Your perception and perspective of life and its circumstances are often what dictates your mood. If you can change your thoughts, you can change your feelings and often your behavior. Therapy can help you to do these things.
I have found that people who have an adjustment related depression are often the ones who respond most quickly and successfully to treatment. Once you can isolate some of the stresses and causes of your depression often, you feel relieved. It is our distress about the fact that we are depressed, the feeling of things being out of control , that often make the depression worse.Knowing why frees you up to examine how you can improve your situational depression by thinking about the stress differently.
I have had clients come in and say why have I gotten depressed? Sometimes there is a more endogenous or biological piece to their depression. This is disconcerting for them. You mean this can happen at any time? Why? How can I stop it from happenign in the future they might say.
When we know why we are depressed it seems less out of control. A client may say of course! Of course I am feeling this way. These overwhelming confusing things happened I have never had to deal with before. I lost my husband, or my job, or was diagnosed with cancer. Now I understand. How can I work now on coping better with what is?
The identification of the cause somehow allows for the acceptance of the painful situation, there emotional reaction, and paves the way for some changes to occur that help ease the depression.
Learn more about other forms of depression here:
A great page on goal setting and how it's related to depression can be found here