Understanding Situational Depression

June 11, 2019 Swedish Health Team

[5 MIN READ]

Stress takes many forms.

When a construction crane collapsed in Seattle a couple months ago, it killed four people and seriously injured four others—leaving many in our community struggling to cope with the random nature of this tragedy and the fear that something similar could someday happen to them.

It’s not always a public event or even a negative experience. Ending a relationship or the death of a loved one prompts feelings of loss and sadness. Starting a new job may be exciting but it can also be a scary, uncertain time. Each event or experience brings its own type of stress and, along with it, an entire rolodex of emotions for you to process.

Under normal circumstances, you may be able to handle the stressors in your life with grace and creativity. But what about the times when you just can’t seem to “snap out of it” and move on with your life? It could be situational depression.

Situational depression is the result of a traumatic event or major life change.

Situational depression is the result of a traumatic event or major life change. It usually happens within three months of the trigger event and gets better once the stressor is eliminated or you develop coping skills to adapt to the situation.

Common symptoms

Maybe you haven’t quit crying since your dad’s funeral. Or maybe you’re up all night worrying that you’ll never find another job. It’s normal to experience a wide range of emotions after a trauma or tragedy shakes up your life.

There is no right or wrong way to feel, but if you experience a number of the following signs, it could mean it’s time to get some help:

  • Avoiding work, paying bills or other responsibilities
  • Feelings of sadness, hopelessness or despair
  • Frequent or uncontrollable crying
  • Inability to concentrate or focus
  • Increased use of alcohol or other drugs
  • Lack of appetite
  • Thoughts of suicide or self-mutilation
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Withdrawal from people and activities you care about
  • Worry, anxiety or nervousness

Who gets situational depression?

Situational depression is a fairly common occurrence that doesn’t discriminate based on gender, race, age, or lifestyle. Anyone can be affected.

Situational depression is a fairly common occurrence that doesn’t discriminate based on gender, race, age, or lifestyle. Anyone can be affected.

You may be more prone to situational depression if you:

  • Have other emotional or mental issues
  • Experienced significant stress in the past
  • Have more than one major stressor at a time

Treatment

Therapy is the first line of defense against situational depression. Counseling helps you understand the events in your life and how they affect your experiences and emotions. With a qualified therapist, you’ll learn coping strategies that help you manage all forms of stress—both good and bad.

Support groups introduce you to people in similar circumstances to yours and give you a forum to share experiences and insights.

Medication helps reduce sleeping issues and provides relief from anxiety and nervousness while you work to develop coping strategies and solutions.

Find a doctor 

Everyone gets depressed now and then. If you find you can’t turn lemons into lemonade this time, the experts at Swedish are here for you. Find a doctor to help you hone your coping skills in our provider directory.

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