Image by Marcos Paulo Prado

Clinical depression is referred to as Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and typically stems from genetics or changes in brain chemistry, can persist for months or years, and requires both medical and psychological attention. 


Situational depression is actually referred to as Adjustment Disorder with depressed mood, and can occur in response to stressful or painful situations. Examples include job loss, illness, a crisis, injury, accidents, natural disasters, crimes, hard relationships, and life changes (marriage, birth, adoption, divorce, new home or school, retirement). Symptoms generally arise within 3 months of the situation and ease within 6 months. Symptoms may include: low energy, difficulty relaxing, unrealistic or excessive worrying, sleep disturbance, isolation, loneliness, hopelessness, loss of interest in daily activities. 


A person is at a higher risk of experiencing Adjustment Disorder with depressed mood if other mental or physical health issues coexist; multiple stressors are occurring simultaneously; childhood trauma occurred; or past/present substance abuse exists.  

While a depressed mood can certainly improve organically or with lifestyle changes, pursuing treatment early on can reduce the risk of disruptive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors from becoming habits that evolve into a chronic or persistent disorder. Therapy can help with exploring your beliefs and emotions about the situation, provide support and accountability for harmful behaviors that may be forming, increase self-confidence and self-worth with healthy coping skills, and challenge any doubts so that you feel more empowered over the situation.