Having depression is a painful experience, no matter how you’ve got to that point. We may try to sugarcoat how hard it impacts one’s life, but the reality is that it makes life barely livable if it is not treated.
What is situational depression? It is a behavioral or emotional reaction to a highly stressful event, and it’s by definition diagnosed as an adjustment disorder.
Adjustment disorder can be a response to traumatic events, highly stressful experiences, or a major life change. This disorder will induce various symptoms that could interfere with day-to-day functioning.
A possible traumatic experience could be a breakup with your partner. In the aftermath of a breakdown, you may question whether you ever knew who your partner was. This uncertainty doesn’t only affect that particular dimension of your life, but it can shatter your whole inner world.
You will start to question everything and test your previously accepted assumptions about existence. This will launch you into a depressed state, an adjustment disorder that makes you unable to integrate your new reality.
There is light within the darkness of your depression; you can overcome it. Little steps taken consistently make a difference, and one of them could be considering therapy.
Symptoms of Situational Depression
If you are reading this, you may be among those people who suffer from this particular mental disorder. If you are uncertain whether you have it or not, this list of symptoms can serve as a guideline:
- Low mood and sadness
- A sense of constant worry
- Lack of enjoyment in day-to-day activities
- Sleeping problems
- Disinterest in food
- Trouble focusing
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Suicidal tendencies
Whether you use this list as a quiz to find out if you suffer from situational depression or not, you should still talk with a professional to be certain about the diagnosis.
Causes of Situational Depression
As mentioned earlier, adjustment disorder can be caused by traumatic events, major life changes, or highly stressful events. Things like:
- The death of a loved one
- Physical assault
- Natural disaster
- Relationship problems, such as intense fighting or divorce
- Sudden loss of your job
- Sudden loss of a very large sum of money
- A serious medical condition
There are also risk factors that increase the likelihood of developing situational depression:
- A traumatic event in your childhood
- Experiencing multiple stressors constantly
- Having a family history of depression
Regardless of the cause of the adjustment disorder, there are ways you can handle this problem. You can choose to start therapy, online counseling, and many other things.
Adjustment Disorder vs. Clinical Depression
The difference between adjustment disorder and clinical depression is their causes and duration.
On the one hand, situational depression is mainly induced by highly stressful life situations, and its duration can be relatively short.
On the other hand, clinical depression can be induced by brain chemistry particularities and specific genetic variations. One such example is considered to be a dysfunction at the level of serotonin, a neurochemical messenger. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps you regulate your mood, sleep, and appetite, among other things. This sort of depression has much more severe implications that impede daily functioning and can last for years.
TedX covered an insightful speech about it:
Situational Depression Treatment
Adjustment disorder lasts as long as a person can’t adjust to the new situation. Time is sometimes all they need to feel better. Other times, treatment through individual counseling and group therapy can help people cope. You can go physically to sessions or choose to do online counseling.
Some cases require a synergy between medication and psychotherapy in the recovery process.
Talking to a professional is always a good idea as they can identify your diagnosis accurately, and it is essential for effective treatment. For example, even if the symptoms are very similar, people with situational depression often don’t have to take medication as ones suffering from major depression, and therapy is often enough.
Different therapy approaches help people overcome life challenges. One of the possible ways to treat situational depression could be cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
CBT uses a series of techniques to replace negative thinking patterns with more helpful ones. One such change could be the following:
- Instead of thinking, ‘’This change is terrible, it is unbearable, and now I am helpless,’’ you could think, ‘’This situation is very bad, it might seem unbearable, but I can overcome this.”
This therapeutic method can help a person cope better with depression and make a full recovery with time. You could physically attend the therapy sessions or choose to do online therapy.
Asking for help might be difficult. For some, it requires overcoming stigma. For others – find time in their schedule.
Many people refuse to ask for any help because of that. The damage increases and, sometimes, what once could be treated in a short time, now takes much more to be treated.
Online therapy provides the opportunity to talk with a professional in a comfortable, private, and flexible way. Undergoing CBT or any other therapy online doesn’t require physical presence, as almost all techniques focus on a verbal component.
You could choose to start online therapy based on a flexible schedule and from the comfort of your own home. You can also engage in therapy anonymously.
Online therapy tends to also be more affordable than in-person therapy, allowing more people to reach for help.
In the most severe cases, antidepressants or anti-anxiety drugs could help.
One example is selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). These antidepressants work by increasing serotonin in the brain, leading to a positive effect on mental health.
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Coping With Situational Depression
Once therapy is helping you manage the symptoms of situational depression, you may also find the motivation to try things that will improve your progress even more. Here are things you could do on your own to increase your odds fighting against your depression:
Remember that time heals
The passing of time from the challenging event that has caused situational depression could help you adjust to the new situation. Furthermore, time will let you transform the situation into something more bearable and even pleasant. The loss of a job, for example, can encourage some people to open their own business and follow their passion.
Take care of your body
Make sure you have healthy eating habits. Try supplements such as fish oil that showed to have an effect in reducing symptoms of depression.
Sleep is also very important. If you struggle to sleep, analyze your pre-sleep routine.
Another thing to consider is exercise. You don’t need an expensive gym membership; you could start running or doing a home workout for 10 minutes.
Have others by your side
It may seem that nobody understands your situation, but people close to you will surely be willing to hear you out.
You could also consider joining a community. There are people like you who also struggle with situational depression. To find them, you could search for similar gatherings in your local area or join an online therapy group session. Hearing how people cope with this might inspire you towards finding better ways to cope with depression yourself.
Don’t Struggle With Situational Depression Alone
Having adjustment disorder is a struggle you bear on your own. Even though people can support you, it is your cross to bear. In some cases where the symptoms are milder, the depression can disappear on its own. On the other hand, there are cases where it will only get worse with time if not treated.
Situational depression is induced by a high-stress experience that could change your whole perception of the world. It is something that could interfere with your life, based on the severity of your symptoms.
There is a treatment for situational depression; it could help you get out of the darkness that now lingers in your life. It can be either going physically to therapy or choosing online therapy.
Engaging with something like CBT doesn’t require your physical presence, as it is based on verbal therapy. Medication might be something to consider in severe cases along with therapy.
If you need help, whatever makes you take that first hard step, choose it. Letting your depressive symptoms take over you is not an option; you have all the means to get out of this.