Overview of Situational Depression

Situational depression involves symptoms of depression related to stress. It is not a recognized clinical disorder, but an informal term used to describe a condition that may be more formally diagnosed as an adaptation disorder.

These depressive emotions are usually triggered by traumatic events, sudden stress or major life changes. Triggers may include events such as serious accidents, divorce, unemployment, or death of a loved one.

Situational depression can be diagnosed as an adjustment disorder of low mood. Although this condition is characterized by mood-related symptoms, Manual of Diagnosis and Statistics of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) categorizes an adaptation disorder as a trauma or stress-related disorder.


Symptoms of situational depression include:

  • Depression and sadness
  • Burst into tears; often cry
  • despair
  • Inattention
  • Lack of motivation
  • Lose pleasure
  • Quit normal activities
  • Loneliness or social isolation
  • Suicidal thoughts

After experiencing a difficult life event, whether it is a relationship change, unemployment or the death of a loved one, the pressure of this situation can make you feel sad, helpless, indifferent, lost, irritable or even desperate. You may cry often, feel listless and unable to concentrate, or find yourself unable to handle normal daily tasks. What you can usually handle seems overwhelming or impossible.

Situational depression usually starts within 90 days of the stressful event. In most cases, the duration of situational depression tends to be short, and it usually resolves within six months of the triggering event.

READ ALSO:  Is it safe to mix Cymbalta (duloxetine) and alcohol?

Although symptoms usually subside within six months, their severity can range from mild to more severe.


Situational depression begins with some major life change or trauma. Some events that may trigger this form of depression include:

Certain factors may increase the risk of situational depression. These include:

  • Have a mental health condition
  • Past childhood stress and trauma
  • Experience multiple traumas or stressors at the same time
  • Family history of depression

Situational depression differs from major depressive disorder (MDD) in several important ways. In situations where situational depression is caused by life stressors, MDD usually has multiple causes. The duration of situational depression is also shorter, while the duration of MDD may be longer. If a person’s response to a stressor meets all the criteria for major depression, they will not be considered to have “situational” depression or adjustment disorder, but will be diagnosed as major depression.


In order to be diagnosed as an adjustment disorder of low mood, these symptoms must also cause significant pain and significant damage to important areas of life function.

Although situational depression tends to be less severe and not as common as major depression, it does not make the situation less “real.” Situational depression can challenge well-being and make daily life difficult.


Talking with your doctor can help determine if you have situational depression. Fortunately, effective treatment can help you control your symptoms. These usually involve treating symptoms and addressing the stressors that cause these feelings.

READ ALSO:  Is a psychologist a doctor?

Once the stressor is dealt with, when the symptoms subsided, people will begin to adjust and cope.

Situational depression may be a common and natural response to stressful or traumatic events. Symptoms are usually short-term and begin to improve:

  • time flies
  • Personal rehabilitation
  • The situation has improved

Mild situational depression can usually be dealt with through self-care and coping strategies. More serious cases may require professional treatment and support.

The treatment of situational depression may include personal counseling, group support, and medications to treat severe symptoms of depression. In some cases, a combination of psychotherapy and medication can be used to treat situational depression.

Psychotherapy may include the use of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which is an effective treatment for depression. CBT helps replace negative thinking patterns with more adaptive thinking patterns. It can also help people better cope with stress and improve coping skills, thereby helping to prevent the recurrence of depressive symptoms in the future.

Medications for the treatment of situational depression may include antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs.


There are many lifestyle changes that can help you cope with situational depression:

  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet
  • Adhere to a regular schedule
  • Participate in regular exercise
  • Join a support group in your community or online
  • Start a new hobby or entertainment
  • Talk to friends and family
READ ALSO:  What is long word phobia?

Sometimes, situational depression will go away on its own over time. People with good coping skills and resilience may be more likely to recover on their own with adequate self-care and social support.

A useful coping strategy is to devote energy to problem solving. No matter what kind of pressure you face, finding ways to improve the situation can help you focus on the future. Analyze the situation, consider solutions that might help make things better, and then work hard to achieve those goals.

This approach also allows you to focus on all aspects of the situation that you can control instead of focusing on things you can’t control.

If you have problems dealing with a traumatic event and experience symptoms of depression or anxiety, please consider talking to your doctor or therapist.

Very good sentence

Situational depression can be difficult, but it is important to remember that your feelings are temporary. Good coping mechanisms and support from loved ones can usually relieve symptoms and help you cope with stressful events. As you recover and your condition improves, you may find that your mood improves over time.

If your symptoms seem to be getting worse, consult your doctor or mental health professional.