What's the difference between "situational depression" and depression that’s not situational?
Joseph F. Goldberg, MD
Psychiatrist, WebMD Medical Expert
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Depression is depression, defined by a series of symptoms that involve changes in sleep, energy, concentration, appetite, etc. One does not need to have a reason to develop a depression, though if there is a particular event that may have precipitated it (e.g., a loss, a separation), that may be relevant to the psychotherapy and understanding one's vulnerabilities to depression.
Not everybody who has a loss or stressful event occur develops a depression, so the thinking is that someone either is or isn't biologically vulnerable to developing depression.
Depression is different from normal grief or sadness. Grief or sadness related to an event does not involve disruptions of sleep and appetite or thoughts of suicide. In fact, normal grief can become complicated by a depression, which in turn can interfere with the resolution of the grief; so, in other words, depression is a syndrome involving many components, and whatever causes it (we don't really know), it should get treated. When the syndrome involves strong physical symptoms (sleep, energy, concentration, not functioning, thoughts of suicide), medicines are especially likely to be helpful.