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Situational Depression VS. Normal Sadness

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As someone who has had situational depression, am I the only one who feels very annoyed when people refer to normal sadness as situational depression, or confuse the two?

Situational depression is indeed short term, but it's still serious. It can be brought on by being unable to cope with life changes like job loss, divorce, moving / switching schools, breakups, issues in marriage / school / the workplace / romantic relationships / social life, bad environments, etc. And a lot of people with depression will get annoyed with people who claim to be depressed after dealing with life issues which it is normal to feel an intense sadness or difficult coping, and rightfully so.

But even then situational depression is different, it's caused when somebody cannot cope with outside situations like a normal person can. With things like normal grief or adjusting to situations, things do slowly get better as the days go by. With situational depression, it's like the days are getting worse and worse. It can cause lethargy, guilt, self-hatred, self-harm, or suicidal thoughts. Which is why it requires medication and therapy sometimes. Which is why it can't be done alone. Which is why it is NOT just sadness or grief. 

It upsets me to see both medical professionals describing situational depression as something that is "normal reactions to life events" or "easy to deal with/cure" and people who claim to be situationally depressed even though they don't have the symptoms and can deal with it just fine and recover easily, and positivity was the big thing to turn their life around.

Medically it is known as adjustment disorder with depressed mood, but imo it might as well be just a short term form of clinical depression caused by external events. That was just a little rant I suppose. In your guys' opinion, what is the difference between an episode of situational depression or normal sadness?

Edited by Guest

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I suspect there is overlap there, and situations can differ.

When my dad died, i spiraled into clinical depression, having not realized i had mild depression for a long time. Then i started going to doctors and therapists, which revealed a bigger mess than anyone realizef was there.

So i guess if i had no underlying depression issues, and a death in the family made me temporarily depressed, you could call that situational.

In my case, i guess it was always there and got acute with the death in the family. So what do you call that?

Maybe i dont know what 'normal sadness' is.

Depression hits me like a ton of bricks.

I guess we'll never know how it feels to be someone else.

 

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So many medical professionals don't understand emotions, let alone sadness, grief, situational or clinical depression. I'm sure many of them bandy about these terms and freely hand out anti-depressants like it was candy, without a full understanding of mental health. That's been my experience. But I see your point, doctors can also minimize someone's situational depression and make it sound like it's just everyday appropriate sadness that all people have.

I've suffered from depression all my life, but certain situations can probably give me a double-whammy of both clinical and situational depression. For example when my mother died, I was very depressed for at least two years. Quite frankly, I lost the will to live, and that's pretty over-the-top for grief. So I interpreted my reaction as over-blown because I already have depression.

Situational depression is when it's short-term and related to a specific event (e.g. divorce, losing a loved one, job loss etc). But it can also be quite impairing.

Sadness is just a feeling every single human being feels from time to time, but it doesn't ride them, like a monkey on their back, and interfere with their normal functioning. Whereas depression (clinical or situational) does interfere with a lot of things. The way I understand it.

Sigh. I wish regular doctors understood more. My doctor doesn't necessarily understand the illness but she is highly supportive so that's good enough for me 🙂

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KipKipFox,

I can relate to your post. I’m 66 years old and have no history of depression. Six months ago I had a traumatic accident from which I am still recovering. 

As my body continued to heal, I found myself in a crippling depression. I’m calling it a situational depression, because it clearly arose from my accident. But even without prior experience with depression, I can vouch that it’s a real, deep depression and not just sadness or trouble adjusting to a life event. I have said before on this forum that I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.

You used the word “temporary” and I truly hope that my depression does turn out to be temporary. I’m in counseling and have begun taking antidepressants. My moods are sometimes so dark that I can’t even remember what it felt like to be happy, or even just neutral. 

So if anyone has any confusion about the difference between normal sadness and situational depression, they only need talk with me. It’s the difference between night and day.

My doctor confided in me that he experienced depression based upon a medical diagnosis, so I am lucky to have a doctor who is compassionate and understands situational depression from his own personal experience. For what it’s worth, he keeps encouraging me and telling me I will get better, as he did.

ChopinLover

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