It’s understandable to be confused by the various terms to define depression. If you’re feeling down, you might refer to it as being depressed. However, there are several ways to describe what you’re going through. 

Unfortunately, depression affects a significant portion of the United States population, as well all other countries throughout the world. The most common type of depression, known as “major depressive disorder,” affects 17.3 million U.S. adults, equating to 7.1 percent of the entire population in the country. Although major depressive disorder (MDD) is the most common, there are many other forms, such as situational depression, a short-term stress-related type of depression.

Women More Likely to Have Depression Than Men

Studies have also found that women are more prone to depression than men and that 1.9 million children from the ages of 3 to 17 also deal with depression. It’s a condition that doesn’t discriminate by socioeconomic background, race, sex, or age. Even some of the most widely known athletes in the United States, like Kevin Love, admit to problems with their mental health, proving that all the fame and money in the world can’t stop the disorder.

It’s common to feel the blues from time to time, but for most of us, it’ll dissipate as time goes on. You know the saying that time heals all wounds? Well, that’s not the case for someone with a chemical imbalance. The worst part of depression is that it can tear a person down. It can make a person feel as though they’re nothing, leading to any possibility of ridding themselves of the pain—even suicide. 

Life is precious, and we value it above anything else, so you can only imagine how painful depression can be if people not just consider it but follow through and attempt to take their own lives. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that suicide rates increased 33 percent between 1999 and 2019. However, these numbers declined slightly in 2019. Suicide is considered the 10th leading cause of death in the United States and took more than  47,500 deaths in 2019, equating to 11 deaths every 11 minutes. The figure for those who think about or attempt suicide is much higher. 

Take Any Mention of Suicide Seriously

If you’re feeling down and have considered suicide, or you’ve heard a friend talking about suicide, take it seriously. You should never feel guilty about being depressed or feeling a certain type of way. The country has worked diligently to remove the stigma attached to depression, and resources to get help are a phone call away. Please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255 for help or visit its website for additional options. With the right support, things will get better. Suicide affects all ages, so don’t think if someone is young, they might not follow through with their words. 

Many types of depression affect individuals of all ages, but what is the difference? One such example we mentioned above is situational depression, and it’s vital to understand the difference between other forms and how it’s defined.

What Is Situational Depression?

Situational depression is defined as a short-term, stress-related type of depression. It has the potential to develop after experiencing a traumatic event or a series of traumatic events. Situational depression is considered a type of “adjustment disorder,” meaning it’ll be hard for a person to adjust to their daily lives after a traumatic event. It also goes by the name “reactive depression.”

Events that may lead up to situational depression include the following:

  • Moving
  • A severe illness
  • The death of a family member or loved one
  • Stress at school or work
  • Losing a job
  • Problems in your relationship

Symptoms of Situational Depression

Sometimes, it may be challenging to get to the root and understand what type of depression you’re experiencing. However, if you’re going through anything we listed above, it could indicate that it’s not so much a chemical imbalance in your brain but rather a situation that’s influenced how you feel. Only a doctor can make this determination, so make sure to share the current events in your life for them to make a proper diagnosis. 

The symptoms of situational depression will vary from one person to another. One person who lost a loved one will deal with their depression differently than someone who’s having problems at work or school. The length of time and severity of symptoms will also vary. Situational depression will magnify the issues you’re facing in life, which can lead to disruptions in daily tasks. 

The most common symptoms of situational depression include the following:

  • Regular crying
  • Hopelessness
  • Sadness
  • Lack of enjoyment in activities you once found fun
  • Severe sleep difficulties
  • Inability to focus
  • Losing all interest in food
  • Constantly feeling worried, anxious, or stressed out
  • Inability to carry out your normal routine
  • Often feeling overwhelmed by anything going on
  • Avoiding all interaction with people and social situations
  • Not having the energy to go to work or pay your bills
  • Thoughts of suicide or attempts

Causes of Situational Depression

Both positive and adverse events can lead to situational depression. We all react differently to external stimuli, so some of the following might affect others less than you. You shouldn’t ever compare yourself to others and how you react. 

Stressful events that can fuel situational depression include the following:

  • Relationship or marital issues that include fighting or divorce
  • The death of a family member, friend, or spouse
  • Social issues at work or school that lead to debilitating anxiety or depression
  • Situational changes, such as moving away to college, having a baby, or retiring from your career
  • Negative financial situations, such as losing a job or money problems
  • Receiving a devastating medical diagnosis 
  • Life-or-death experiences that include combat, a natural disaster, or physical assault
  • Living in a neighborhood where crime is prevalent 

Life experiences that have occurred in the past can also affect how you cope with stress. Individuals are at a higher risk of situational depression if they have the following:

  • Pre-existing mental health problems
  • Having gone through significant stress during childhood
  • Several challenging life circumstances that occur simultaneously 

There are specific biological factors that can also increase your chances of developing depression, including the following:

  • Changes in genetics
  • Hormonal abnormalities
  • Abnormalities in your brain structure and chemistry

Those with a family history of depression are at a much higher risk of developing the condition as well. 

How to Diagnose Situational Depression

what is situational depression

For those with situational depression, symptoms will follow a stress event or series of events. You must speak to your physician and never self-diagnose. It could be post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or it could be situational depression. Only a trained physician can make this determination. However, you’re likely to have situational depression if you have the following:

  • You feel more stress than usual after a stressful life event.
  • You have behavioral or emotional symptoms that develop within three months after the stressful event.
  • Stress is causing severe issues in your interpersonal relationships at school or work.
  • You have depression symptoms that aren’t caused by a mental health condition or part of the normal grieving process after the death of a friend or family member.

Treatment for Situational Depression

As we mentioned above, experiencing depression is common and not always a reason for concern. Some days aren’t the best, but usually, we wake up the next day refreshed and ready to put it behind us. However, that’s not always the case. Sometimes depression lingers and affects your life, or even worse, causes you to have dangerous thoughts. If this becomes a pressing issue, you must schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss your options. Treatment can help you cope with these stressful events.

Your doctor might suggest medication to take in the short-term that includes:

  • Zoloft
  • Celexa
  • Bupropion

Psychotherapy is typically the preferred treatment because of the duration of situational depression. If you’re not dealing with a chemical imbalance, it doesn’t make sense to use chemicals to fix the problem when other methods are available. Therapy will help you cope with potential challenges you’ll encounter in the future and help you become more resilient. One such therapy implemented by most doctors is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

The only way to determine what’s going on is to schedule an appointment with your doctor. The sooner you reach out for help, the sooner you’ll start feeling better.

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