Reactive Depression: What Is Situational Depression and How to Treat It?

Did you know that there are 10 different types of depression? To name a few, there’s major depression, psychotic depression, seasonal affective disorder, and situational depression – also known as reactive depression. In this article, we’ll explain the last one in detail.
reactive depression

Key Takeaways

  • Situational depression (also known as reactive depression) is a type of depressive disorder that occurs in response to an event or situation.
  • Symptoms include low mood, loss of interest in activities, sleep and appetite changes, fatigue, feelings of guilt and worthlessness, difficulty concentrating and suicidal thoughts.
  • Treatment options for situational depression include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), medication and self-care strategies such as regular exercise, healthy dieting habits & relaxation techniques.
  • It’s important to seek help from a mental health professional if you think you may be experiencing reactive depression – it can evolve into major depressive disorder if left untreated.
  • Reactive depression is not necessarily persistent but can become disabling with time; seeking support from professionals or support groups is recommended for managing the condition effectively.

Reactive Depression or Situational Depression – Meaning

The two terms, reactive depression and situational depression, mean the same thing. So what is situational depression? It occurs as a reaction to a certain event or situation in one’s life. Life events such as losing a loved one, experiencing a physical assault, going through a divorce, or losing a job can trigger depressive symptoms.

Unlike major depressive disorder (MDD), reactive depression is not necessarily persistent and long-lasting. Its onset and duration can be directly tied to a specific event or situation, hence the term reactive.

Symptoms of Situational Depression

Situational depression, sometimes referred to as adjustment disorder, can present similar feelings and behaviors as major depression:

  • low mood;
  • loss of interest in activities;
  • sleep and appetite changes;
  • fatigue;
  • feelings of guilt and worthlessness;
  • difficulty concentrating;
  • suicidal thoughts.

But reactive depression often also includes feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, and helpless in response to the triggering event or situation. It can also manifest as physical symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches, and body aches. Reminiscing about the triggering event may also cause situational depression to worsen.

symptoms of situational depression

Diagnosing and Treating Reactive Depression

It’s important to seek help from a mental health professional if you think you may be experiencing reactive depression. A therapist can properly assess and diagnose the condition, as well as provide treatment options.

Common reactive depression treatment options include therapy, medication, and self-care strategies. Cognitive behavioral therapy can help one identify and challenge negative thoughts and behaviors, while medication can provide symptom relief. Self-care includes engaging in regular exercise and maintaining a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, and practicing relaxation techniques.

While situational depression may not be as persistent as major depressive disorder, it shouldn’t be taken lightly. It’s important to seek help and address the underlying causes of reactive depression in order to prevent it from developing into a more severe and long-term condition.

Can Situational Depression Turn Into Clinical Depression?

While reactive depression is not necessarily persistent and long-lasting, it can evolve into major depressive disorder if left untreated. It’s critical to seek help and address the underlying causes to prevent the condition from worsening. Consistent therapy and self-care strategies can help manage the symptoms and work through the cause.

There are many different types of depression, and one of the most dangerous is hidden depression – read about it in our blog post.

Is Reactive Depression Normal?

Besides learning the answer to “What is situational depression?”, it’s important to understand that reactive depression is a valid and common experience. In the face of loss, it’s common for people to experience a variety of reactions and challenges. Grief is often an unavoidable part of life, but can be navigated with courage and understanding. However, it’s also worth seeking help and support, so you don’t develop a more serious condition.

Breathing Exercises

When I’m feeling overwhelmed or anxious, I like to take a few minutes to practice a breathing exercise. It helps me to relax and refocus my mind. I start by taking a few deep breaths, inhaling through my nose and exhaling through my mouth. Then, I count to five as I breathe in and five as I breathe out. Doing this helps to slow down my breathing and clear my mind.
I also like to add a visual element to the exercise. I imagine a white light entering my body through my nose and filling my lungs with energy. Then, I imagine the light slowly leaving my body as I exhale. This helps me to focus on the present moment and let go of any negative thoughts or feelings.
is reactive depression normal

Is Reactive Depression Hereditary?

There isn’t clear evidence that reactive depression is hereditary. However, there may be a genetic predisposition for depression in general. Some families will handle grief without developing situational depression, while others may struggle more in response to the same event.

It’s important to be mindful of family history and any personal risk factors, and seek help if necessary. A licensed therapist can develop a treatment plan and help a person who is going through difficult life circumstances. Online therapy might also be an option if you cannot get help in person.

What Is the ICD-10 Code for Reactive Depression?

One appropriate code for reactive depression, classified as “major depressive disorder, single episode” is F32.9 in the ICD-10 classification system. However, a medical or mental health professional will determine the specific code based on the individual’s unique symptoms and diagnosis.

For example, some individuals may have psychotic symptoms, which would affect the code used. There is also F43.21, which is a code for “adjustment disorder with depressed mood.” Many experts consider reactive depression to be this subtype of adjustment disorder rather than depression.

Is Reactive Depression in DSM 5?

Reactive depression is not a distinct disorder in the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) classification system. However, this type of depression can fall under the diagnosis of major depressive disorder, adjustment disorder, or even post-traumatic stress disorder depending on the individual’s specific symptoms and experiences.

How Long Does Situational Depression Last?

The duration of reactive depression can vary greatly between individuals. It may only last for a few weeks or months, and typically resolves once the triggering event has been resolved or coping strategies have been effectively implemented. However, situational depression can also develop into a more persistent and long-term condition if left unaddressed.

Is Reactive Depression a Disability?

Reactive depression can be thought of as a disability. It is a mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, such as learning, thinking, or working. However, since it’s not a formal diagnosable condition, it will not make you eligible for disability benefits unless you get diagnosed with major depressive disorder or another form of depression.

Final Thoughts

Remember, you are not alone in your struggles and there is always support available. If you or a loved one is experiencing reactive depression due to a traumatic event, don’t hesitate to seek help from a mental health professional or a support group. They can help you work through the underlying causes of situational depression. Take care of yourself and prioritize your mental well-being.

Do you have any other questions about situational depression? Let us know in the comments, and we’ll do our best to provide resources and information.

situational depression - frequently asked questions

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is an Example of Reactive Depression?

Reactive depression can be a heartbreaking result of difficult events or life transitions. It might come after the passing of someone close, an end to a relationship, or even just shifting career paths – any number of experiences that bring about powerful emotional changes and challenges.

Is Reactive Depression Temporary?

Reactive depression is usually temporary, and can usually be managed with therapy and medication. With the help of a mental health professional, people with reactive depression can learn to cope with their emotions and work towards recovery.

What Is the Worst Form of Depression?

The most severe form of depression is major depressive disorder (MDD). People with MDD experience a persistent feeling of sadness and hopelessness that can last for weeks or months on end. MDD can also be accompanied by physical symptoms, such as fatigue, changes in appetite, and difficulty sleeping.

What Part of the Body Is Responsible for Depression?

Depression is caused by a combination of physical and psychological factors. The brain is the main organ responsible for depression, as it is responsible for producing and regulating hormones and neurotransmitters that affect mood.

What Happens in the Brain During Depression?

Depression is associated with changes in the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain, particularly serotonin and norepinephrine. These changes can affect how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. Additionally, some areas of the brain may be less active during depression, such as the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for regulating emotions.

Can a Person Be Born Depressed?

No, a person cannot be born depressed. However, a person may be born with a predisposition to depression, which can be triggered by a variety of environmental and psychological factors. Additionally, some people may be born with a genetic predisposition to depression, which can increase their risk of developing the condition.

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