What Is Situational Depression? Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Situational depression, also called reactive depression, is a type of depression that happens because of certain events or situations in one’s life.


Situational depression, also called reactive depression, is a form of depression that is caused by certain events or situations in life. Situational depression can be linked to a specific event or situation, while clinical depression may not have a clear cause. Knowing the signs of situational depression, what causes it, and how to treat it can help people recognize and deal with this temporary condition.

What Is Situational Depression?

Situational depression, also called reactive depression, is a type of depression that happens because of certain events or situations in one’s life. It causes people to feel sad, hopeless, and like they have no reason to do anything. Situational depression is different from clinical depression because it can be caused by a specific event, like the death of a loved one, problems in a relationship, losing a job, or making a big change in your life. It is usually short-term and gets better as the person gets used to the situation and works through their feelings. Therapy, medication, support systems, self-care, and time are all ways to treat depression.

Situational Depression vs Clinical Depression

Both types of depression can make a person feel sad and hopeless, but situational depression is usually caused by something like a breakup or losing a job. Clinical depression, on the other hand, lasts longer and is more persistent. It can be caused by a number of things, including genes and the way the brain works.

Situational Depression:

  • Cause: Situational depression is triggered by specific life events or circumstances, such as a traumatic event, loss, or major life changes.
  • Duration: It is generally temporary and tends to resolve as the individual adjusts to the situation or event.
  • Symptoms: Symptoms of situational depression are similar to those of clinical depression, including feelings of sadness, hopelessness, loss of interest, changes in sleep and appetite, and difficulty concentrating.
  • Treatment: Treatment for situational depression often involves therapy, support systems, self-care, and time.

Clinical Depression:

  • Cause: Clinical depression, also known as major depressive disorder, is a mental health condition that can occur without any specific trigger. It may have a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors contributing to its development.
  • Duration: It is typically long-lasting and persists for weeks, months, or even years if left untreated.
  • Symptoms: Symptoms of clinical depression include persistent feelings of sadness, loss of interest in activities, changes in appetite and sleep patterns, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, and even thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
  • Treatment: Treatment for clinical depression often involves a combination of therapy and medication, such as antidepressant medications, to manage symptoms and promote recovery.

Situational Depression Symptoms

Situational depression can have different signs and symptoms for each person, but here are some common ones:

  • Loss of interest or pleasure in things that were once fun.
  • Changes in hunger and weight (either up or down).
  • Sleep disturbances (insomnia or excessive sleep).
  • Fatigue or low energy levels.
  • Having trouble focusing or making decisions.
  • Feelings of guilt or not being good enough.
  • Irritability or agitation.
  • Withdrawal from society or being alone.
  • Headaches or stomachaches that don’t seem to have a clear medical cause.
  • Thoughts of hurting yourself or killing yourself (if you have these thoughts, get help right away).

Depression Fact Sheet

Depression Overview

Depression is a group of illnesses like depression or bipolar disorder that are connected to mood elevation or depression.

Situational Depression Definition

Situational depression, also known as reactive depression, is a type of depression that occurs in response to a specific stressful event or situation. It is characterized by feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a loss of interest or pleasure in activities. Situational depression is directly linked to the triggering event or circumstance and may resolve once the situation improves or the person adapts to the new circumstances. It differs from clinical depression, which is a more persistent and pervasive form of depression not necessarily tied to a specific event or situation.

Types of Depression

Clinical Depression: A mental health disorder characterized by persistently depressed mood or loss of interest in activities, causing significant impairment in daily life.

Persistent depressive disorder: A mild but long-term form of depression.

Bipolar disorder: A disorder associated with episodes of mood swings ranging from depressive lows to manic highs.

Bipolar II disorder:  A type of bipolar disorder characterized by depressive and hypomanic episodes.

Postpartum depression: Depression that occurs after childbirth.

Depression Treatments

  • Support group: A place where those pursuing the same disease or objective, such as weight loss or depression, can receive counseling and exchange experiences.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy: A conversation treatment that aimed to change the negative attitudes, actions, and feelings connected to psychiatric discomfort.
  • Counseling psychology: A subfield of psychology that handles issues with the self that are connected to work, school, family, and social life.
  • Anger management: To reduce destructive emotional outbursts, practice mindfulness, coping skills, and trigger avoidance.
  • Psychoeducation: Mental health education that also helps individuals feel supported, validated, and empowered
  • Family therapy: psychological counseling that improves family communication and conflict resolution.

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Depression Statistics

One of the most prevalent mental diseases in the US is major depression. Some people who have serious depression may experience substantial impairments that impede or restrict their capacity to engage in important life activities.

21 million

An estimated 21.0 million adults in the United States had at least one major depressive episode. This number represented 8.4% of all U.S. adults.

Source: National Institute on Mental Health


The prevalence of major depressive episodes was higher among adult females (10.5%) compared to males (6.2%).

Source: National Institute on Mental Health


The prevalence of adults with a major depressive episode was highest among individuals aged 18-25 (17.0%).

Source: National Institute of Mental Health

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How Long Does Situational Depression Last?

Situational depression can last for different amounts of time depending on the person and the situation. It can last a few weeks or months, but usually goes away after six months as the person adapts to the stressor and learns to deal with it. But if the depression lasts longer than this or gets worse, it could be a sign of a more serious underlying condition and you should see a doctor.

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Situational Depression Treatment

Situational depression can be treated in different ways, depending on the person and how bad the symptoms are. Here are some of the most common ways to treat situational depression:

  • Psychotherapy: Talk therapy, like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or interpersonal therapy (IPT), can help people find and change negative thought patterns, come up with ways to deal with problems, and work through the problems caused by the event that set off their anxiety.
  • Supportive counseling: Going to a counselor or therapist for help can give you a safe place to talk about your feelings, gain a new perspective, and get advice on how to deal with the problems in your life.
  • Medication: In some cases, depression symptoms can be helped by taking medicine. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are one type of antidepressant medicine that can be used along with therapy.
  • Self-care and changes to your lifestyle: Taking care of yourself by doing things like getting regular exercise, eating well, getting enough sleep, and doing things that bring you joy and help you relax can improve your overall health and help you deal with your symptoms.
  • Support from friends, family, or support groups can help you feel better, validated, and understood when things are hard.

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  1. How to deal with situational depression?

    Dealing with situational depression involves a combination of self-care practices, seeking support, and professional help. Engaging in self-care activities, reaching out to supportive friends and family, seeking therapy or counseling, and considering medication under the guidance of a healthcare professional can all be helpful in managing situational depression.

  2. Which situation describes a risk factor for depression?

    Various situations can contribute to an increased risk of depression, including experiencing a major loss or bereavement, going through a divorce or relationship breakup, facing financial difficulties, dealing with chronic illness or health problems, experiencing trauma or abuse, and having a family history of depression or mental health disorders. It’s important to note that while these situations can be risk factors, not everyone who experiences them will develop depression.

Coping with Depression Informative Video

Coping with depression can be challenging, but there are several strategies you can use to help manage your symptoms. Exercising, eating healthy, and getting enough sleep can help improve your mood. Talking to a therapist can also be beneficial as they can provide additional resources and help you process your thoughts and feelings. Lastly, knowing what triggers your depressive episodes can help you better prepare for them.

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Search We Level Up WA Mental Health What Is Situational Depression? Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment Topics & Resources
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  5. What is PTSD? (2020).