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Beyond Limits Group

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Timofey Shooters
Timofey Shooters

How To Fight Situational Depression

Situational depression is caused by a stressful or traumatic event. Your symptoms, which may be similar to symptoms of clinical depression, are a reaction to the event. They may show up within a few months, as you try to manage the changes that are happening.

how to fight situational depression

Clinical depression, on the other hand, may get in the way of your life for a long time. It may disrupt your sleep, eating habits, lifestyle, and work. With clinical depression, you have a higher risk of suicide.

Are you feeling overwhelmed from trying to cope with the stress? Do you find it difficult to engage in activities you did before the event happened? Sometimes, depression is tied to a particular situation or event.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), normal bereavement is not a part of the criteria for situational depression. Therefore, any person can experience the above events without developing situational depression. However, some people do, and it can be overwhelming.

Emotional and behavioral responses to the stressor in situational depression occur within 3 months of the stressor. With situational depression, you may experience distress that is out of proportion to the severity of the stressor.

Some people adjust to stressful events quickly and may not develop situational depression; however, others may experience symptoms that interfere with daily functioning. Situational depression always occurs because of a stressor.

In addition, some people with clinical depression may experience symptoms of psychosis, such as hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia. These symptoms are usually not present with situational depression.

Therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and solution-focused therapy can help with situational depression by teaching coping strategies and ways to manage emotions related to the stressor.

You may consider reaching out to your primary care physician or finding a therapist near you if you have symptoms of situational depression. A mental health professional such as a counselor or psychiatrist can help diagnose situational depression.

Situational depression stems from a difficulty in coming to terms with dramatic life changes. Recovery is possible once an individual can come to terms with a new situation. This may require support and treatment.

In most cases, situational depression is only short-term. Mild cases of situational depression often resolve without active treatment. However, some strategies can help a person reduce the effects of situational depression.

Such therapy may not need to last as long as it might in cases of clinical depression. Clinical depression is also likely to require a combination treatment of psychotherapy or psychological counseling and medication.

People with severe situational depression might receive a temporary prescription for medications, including antidepressants or antianxiety drugs, which a doctor may taper off as soon as the person is feeling better.

On the other hand, clinical depression can last for a long time. A person with clinical depression will not necessarily need to take medication indefinitely, but they may require taking it longer as part of a long-term, in-depth treatment plan.

In addition to situational depression and clinical depression (or major depressive disorder), there are several other types of depression, each of which may differ based on the cause, symptoms, and treatment.

Situational depression occurs after life-altering events, but clinical or major depression has a range of causes and is a longer-term condition. With a healthful lifestyle and the right treatment plan, both forms of depression can be manageable.

But what is the difference between symptoms that may arise in response to situational stress compared to signs of serious depression? How do you know if what you feel is normal and will pass, or needs further attention?

Situational stress can generate emotional or behavioral symptoms that look and feel very much like clinical depression. Depending on the degree of symptomatic discomfort, the treatment plan for situational or stress-related symptoms may be supportive or psychoeducational in nature and often includes the teaching of simple coping tools (find some below) that can help combat the impact of everyday stress. Remember that certain types of anxiety and sadness are often a normal response to difficult or overwhelming circumstances. Here are some symptoms shared by situational stress and clinical depression:

There is no magic pill, and no single technique cures situational stress or clinical depression. When life gets stressful, you can achieve a more peaceful state of mind and experience a greater sense of calm with these techniques, which experts have successfully used for decades. You can also always take the first step and contact your doctor or licensed mental health professional today.

Sometimes situational depression can be caused by a combination of factors. A health crisis, for example, may cause financial hardship, and while the person experiencing these troubles may not have become depressed because of a health crisis alone or a financial problem alone, the combination of the two may cause depression.

There are a number of steps that people who have situational depression can take to help themselves cope with their depression, but people experiencing severe symptoms should also consider seeking out counseling or therapy.

The validity of the concept of situational (i.e. reactive) depression as distinct from other major depressive subtypes is examined in terms of psychosocial stressors, personality features, current symptomatology, and clinical course and follow-up. Thirty-eight patients with a recent onset of situational major depressive disorder (i.e. the disorder developed after an event or in a situation the diagnostician deemed likely to have contributed to the episode at that time) were compared with 68 non-situational major depressive patients. These patients were participants in the clinical studies of the NIMH-Clinical Research Branch Collaborative Program on the Psychobiology of Depression. No significant differences between the two groups were found in the total number, content areas, or other categorizations of life events, experienced prior to onset. Some statistically significant differences in current symptomatology and in clinical course and follow-up measures were obtained, but there were none in personality traits. Implications of these results in relation to previously published reports are discussed and caution is recommended in the use of the term situational depression until more definitive data become available.

A mental health professional will diagnose situational depression when symptoms of depression occur within three months of a triggering or stress-inducing event, are more severe than expected and/or interfere with normal functioning. A physical exam with a primary care physician can rule out underlying physical illness as a cause, and a psychological evaluation should rule out more serious conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or clinical depression. Signs and symptoms of situational depression can overlap with those of clinical depression, but typically resolve sooner. If symptoms seem particularly pronounced or long-lasting, treatment can help. Common signs of situational depression include:

The different types of clinical depression include persistent depressive disorder (a depressed mood that lasts for at least two years); postpartum depression (severe depression experienced by one in seven women after childbirth); seasonal affective disorder, or SAD (severe depression triggered by reduced sunlight during winter months); and psychotic depression (severe depression triggered by a co-occurring psychosis).

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, gender can influence which symptoms an individual with depression experiences. For example, women typically have symptoms of sadness, worthlessness and guilt, while men typically have symptoms of insomnia and fatigue, irritability and loss of interest in activities. Symptoms can also vary depending on the stage of the illness. For a diagnosis of clinical or major depression, five or more symptoms of the illness must have been present during the same two-week period and represent a change from previous functioning, with at least one of the symptoms being either depressed mood, or loss of interest or pleasure. Common signs of clinical depression include:

These are proven techniques for keeping thoughts in the moment and breaking negative cycles of thought, especially those tied to upsetting events or situations. Other complementary strategies that can help lift people out of depression include getting regular exercise, eating a balanced diet, maintaining good sleeping habits, adopting a new hobby or fun activity, and talking to friends and loved ones.

As with other depression-related experiences, situational depression tends to involve a low mood and feelings of sadness, guilt or hopelessness. You may have more difficulty feeling pleasure or joy than usual, as well.

In addition to mood shifts, various behavioral changes are also associated with situational depression. These include changes in appetite and eating habits, poor or excessive sleep, bouts of crying, social isolation, losing your temper, rumination, loss of energy and more.

No, situational depression usually doesn't last beyond six months. Depression that lasts longer may be clinical depression. Contact your healthcare provider to let them know if your symptoms aren't getting better.

Depression symptoms can be classified as mild, moderate, or severe. In 2019, 11.5% of adults reported mild symptoms of depression in the past two weeks. During that same timeframe, 4.2% experienced moderate symptoms and 2.8% experienced severe symptoms.


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