Situational Depression – Its Causes, Diagnosis and Remedies

situational depressionLife has its ways of hurting us. When those unwanted events happen, for whatever reason they do, they leave us struggling to find a way to come to terms with them. Time becomes the greatest healer in such situations and though human beings are extremely resilient and are capable of adjusting to even the greatest of losses, momentary depression is inevitable. Not everybody has nerves of steel though, and being only human, there are bound to be some who are susceptible to stress and it’s many ugly effects.

When an individual finally yields to pressure he is likely to display a wide range of emotional outbursts. Different people are affected differently and this is why some are more prone to keep to themselves, worrying and crying while others resort to more violent outbursts.

This temporary depression that overtakes an average human being is also known as situational depression in the language of a psychotherapist. Usually, the signs of it suggest that the individual is struggling to adjust to a situation. There can be many reasons for such situational depression to take over your life, threatening your life and career. The threat of competition, possibility of losing your job and your social status as a result, a very public and critical review of your work, loss of a dear one, breakup in a relationship or even a financial setback. This course on depression looks at several stressors. Psychiatrists often also use the term adjustment disorder to explain such a situation when the mind is unable to come to terms with these stressors.

Is this Common?

Yes it is. Situational disorder is a very common mental condition and unlike other mental disorders or conditions, can happen at any time, regardless of the age, social background and other parameters of the patient. It tends to affect people more who are highly sensitive and are prone to be affected by emotional and other situations. Situational depression is, however, not hereditary like clinical depression. Situational depression happens only due to the impact of external reasons and never because there is a history of mental problems in the family, which is one of the reasons for clinical depression to happen.

Situational Depression – Indicators

Are you suffering from situational depression? The first step is to identify the symptoms. Situation depression has many indicators. A person may have trouble concentrating in his work because he is troubled by thoughts of failure or criticism or even depressed because of an extremely unappreciative boss. He may have trouble sleeping or have anxiety which he cannot explain. Usually, the symptoms are exaggerated because his mind and body is unable to cope with the stress and thus the normal harmony of the body is lost. However, not everyone undergoes through the same symptoms and certainly is not affected similarly. Some people tend to get over some types of stress quite easily while others continue to struggle and need external help.

Those with adjustment disorder react to certain events more intensely than others. An individual can suddenly break down and weep inconsolably. In some other instances an individual may feel that he / she is constantly tired and without the enthusiasm to do anything. Again, it is not uncommon to find people who are affected by situational depression to remained aloof from society and abstain from attending social gatherings. Such symptoms can often be mistaken for other disorders and thus the person is left to suffer on his / her own.

When Can the Symptoms Start?

The symptoms can start at any time within a period of two to three months. Situational depression may subside without external help in the form of medication or psychiatric assistance. This depends on the individual and the gravity of the external reason for such depression. An individual who recently lost his job due to recession may have trouble sleeping at nights or speaking to someone in a friendly manner. He may lose his appetite and other indulgences. But this can be temporary. As soon as he gets another job his external stressor disappears and he becomes normal again.

On the other hand an individual may continue to struggle if he cannot secure another job. His struggles may continue till the point he finds an alternate source of income and finally come to terms with his stressor. Some individuals may require help to get over the problem. Symptoms of Situational depression may look identical to clinical depression at times. But they are not the same thing. It is important to know the difference lest you make the mistake of considering a person to be going through clinical depression when he is actually experiencing situational depression.

Difference Between Clinical and Situational Depression

Clinical depression arises because of chemical imbalances in the brains. This could be hereditary or due to other reasons. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder, a handbook by the American Psychiatric Association, an individual is prone to more than one symptoms when undergoing a major mental disorder (clinical depression). There are a number of symptoms which are identified with clinical depression and a number of times they are mistaken with situational depression because both tend to share the same types of symptoms. An individual will show a heightened level of reaction to stressors in clinical depression compared to those suffering from situational depression. These symptoms of depression can be serious enough to impair the judgment of the person and throw his life and career into disarray. 

Remedial Action

Situational depression is curable and in most cases the person gets relief in a very short period of time. Let’s not leave any doubts about it. Unfortunately, however, most people continue to suffer because those around them fail to identify and relate the problem with the right stressors. If you are having trouble sleeping, have a loss of appetite, trying hard to overcome any mental stress and is conscious about it, speak up! Let your friends and family know that you have a problem before it becomes worse. The earlier you report this, the quicker you can receive help and get out of this potentially career threatening problem.

Situational depression can be in the form of a mild depression, depending on the external reasons, and then tend to subside over a period of few days. The person affected may not ever need medication or any psychiatric help. All one needs is to inculcate a healthy lifestyle, quit smoking, reduce alcohol consumption as well as shift to a healthy diet. Sleeping late, eating junk and not exercising regularly are three primary reasons for a majority of lifestyle diseases. These three negative habits can also fuel a depressive mental condition. One of the first thing that you need to do is to return back to a stress-free life to eliminate all three. Bring some positive thinking into your life. In worse conditions, the symptoms can show up at a much later date to when the incident that triggered them had happened. They may also take much longer to subside.

In the second condition, one may need to seek help from friends and family. After all they are one’s greatest well-wishers and in times of need they are who one should turn to. One should discuss the problems and find out if it is grave enough to seek professional help.

The last recourse is to meet a psychotherapist who can help you to solve your problems and get back to a normal life. A psychotherapist can employ a wide variety of different methodology to understand your problem and then provide a treatment. Understanding the exact nature of the problem will also lead to correct treatment and avoid misdiagnosis leading to further worsening of an existing condition. Alternatively you can also adopt meditation as a form of stress buster. Meditation is an ancient Hindu methodology in which the mind and the body connects together and attains a higher level of spiritual existence, and can be an excellent stress release.