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When your Loved One has The Blues: The Warning Signs of Situational and Clinical depression

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We all feel sad sometimes. It is a normal part of life and nothing to worry about. But what happens when the person you love becomes sad all the time? How do you know if it’s just a rough patch or something more serious?

Situational depression is something that happens to people when they go through a major life change or a traumatic event – such as the death of someone close – and is usually a short-term, depressed mood that fades over time. If, however, the mood does not pass, there’s the risk of it developing into clinical depression, a more serious condition.

Treatment for situational depression can be different to treatment for clinical depression, which is why it’s important to understand the differences so you can best help the person you love.

What is Situational Depression?

a man encounters situational depression during his major life changing

What are the Signs of Situational Depression?

Situational depression results in a person feeling down, crying more often than usual, and experiencing a sense of hopelessness. Other symptoms include:

  • Feeling lethargic and unmotivated
  • Skipping school or calling in sick for work on a regular basis
  • Physical sensations such as headaches, stomach pains and heart palpitations
  • Overeating or lack of appetite
  • Taking drugs and alcohol to numb the emotional pain

What are the Causes of Situational Depression?

We all experience challenges in life but sometimes we are hit with hard times when we do not have proper support, or when we are particularly vulnerable. This can make it more difficult to recover and move forward.

There are many types of stress that can trigger situational depression and these include:

  • Death of a loved one
  • A major relationship breakup or divorce
  • Loss of job 
  • Serious illness (suffered by you or someone you care about)
  • Car or bike accident
  • Being a victim of a violent crime
  • Major life change (such as having a baby, retirement, menopause)
  • Surviving a natural disaster (tsunami, fire, flood, hurricane)

What is Clinical Depression?

an adult female lives with her untreated depression.

Clinical depression can often occur when situational depression goes untreated. It is a more severe form of depression and is also referred to as major depressive disorder or major depression. This type of depression has a significant impact on the daily lives of sufferers. In basic terms, it prevents you from functioning the way you want to on a daily basis.

What are the Signs of Clinical Depression?

To be formally diagnosed with clinical depression, a person must experience five or more severe symptoms on a daily basis over a two-week period – and those symptoms must be so bad that the person cannot go about their regular activities and work duties.

  • Feeling depressed or constantly irritated with life
  • Lack of pleasure when doing things you enjoy
  • Experiencing significant weight gain or weight loss
  • Feeling lethargic and unmotivated
  • Inability to fall or stay asleep
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Uncertainty and self-doubt
  • Suicidal thoughts

What are the Causes of Clinical Depression?

According to the American Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5) there are several factors that can play a role in the diagnosis of clinical depression including:

  • Genetic factors
  • Major life events that trigger negative emotions
  • Alcohol or drug dependence

How to Tell the Difference Between Situational Depression and Clinical Depression?

What happens if you’re not sure if your loved one has clinical depression or situational depression? Often the symptoms of clinical depression – such as feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness – are also experienced by people with situational depression which can make it hard to know how serious to take things.

One of the key differences is that clinical depression usually involves more physical symptoms such as insomnia and weight gain/loss – and is more likely to involve suicidal thoughts. People with clinical depression can also experience psychotic disturbances such as delusions and hallucinations. These symptoms are very rare when it comes to situational depression.

Situational Depression: How Lifestyle Changes can Help

As the shock of the major life stress eases, most people with situational depression will find their way out of the darkness; but there are some simple changes they can incorporate into their daily routines to help ease symptoms.

Lifestyle changes to ease depression:

  • Going to bed and waking up at the same time
  • Taking up a new hobby
  • Eating healthy food
  • Exercising every day
  • Talking to loved ones about what’s going on

Clinical Depression: Getting Professional Support

If your loved one doesn’t seem to be able to pick themselves up after a major life incident and if their depression begins to seriously impact their roles at home or at work – it is important they seek professional help.

At The Dawn, we have a multidisciplinary team of compassionate, Western-trained psychologists, psychotherapists and medical staff who can help your loved one work through their depression as part of a mental health retreat programme

➤ Medication to Ease Symptoms

Often depression sufferers are prescribed such as antidepressants to ease the emotional and physical symptoms of depression. These medications are not considered a long-term solution, but rather a part of an integrated treatment approach – to help the individual get back into a headspace where they can focus on and participate in psychotherapy, which is considered a more effective long-term treatment approach.

Our medical-team will collaborate with your doctor and work towards tapering you off medication as your condition improves.

➤ Alternative for the Medication-Resistant

For those who are resistant to antidepressant medication, we are the only mental health retreat in Asia to offer Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)  – a non-invasive FDA approved therapy proven to reduce depression symptoms significantly

➤ Addressing the Triggers of Depression Through Psychotherapy

The main goal of treatment for clinical depression is to uncover and treat the root causes of the condition, as well as arm the individual with the proper skills to cope with daily stressors.

One of the most effective ways to do this is through the use of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) – a technique we use to work with people with clinical depression on changing negative thought patterns, learning new coping mechanisms and creating positive change in their lives.

At The Dawn, we work CBT into both individual and group therapy and combine it with other evidence-based psychological techniques to help our clients heal.

If your loved one’s clinical depression ties into an underlying traumatic event, we are trained to provide Post Traumatic Stress Disorder treatment to address these issues.

A light in the Darkness: The Dawn Depression Rehab in Thailand

A man and woman are doing meditation to practice the mindfulness that helps cope with depression at The Dawn Mental Health Retreat Thailand.

The Dawn is a boutique mental health retreat in Thailand that specialises in depression rehab. Call us today to speak with one of our clinical psychologists. We can then come up with a treatment plan to help bring light and laughter back into the life of your loved one.

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