What To Do When A Traumatic Life Event Sends You Into A Spiral Of Depression

Are things really tough all of a sudden?

Why Am I Depressed? Symptoms & Signs Of Situational Depression And How To Cope unsplash / Penguinuhh

Situational depression can bring you down for what feels like no reason at all.

Are things in your life rough these days? Are you plagued by feelings of hopelessness and dread?

Do you find yourself combating situational depression and you're wondering what to do?

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When you're dealing with the symptoms of depression of any kind, it may feel impossible to find relief.

The signs of depression aren't always obvious and when you're combating with situational depression, it's different. You might even be asking yourself, "Why am I depressed?"

You can learn how to cope with depression of this sort.

To win the battle, here are 5 things you need to know.

1. Know the difference between chemical and situational depression

Diagnostically, there are two basic kinds of depression: situational depression and chemical depression. They have similar symptoms but different causes.


Situational depression is caused by something that happens in your life. When something big happens that makes you sad — like the death of a parent or a divorce or the loss of a job — you can become situationally depressed.

This kind of depression usually has a beginning, caused by a specific event, and an end. It is often treated differently from chemical depression.

Chemical depression is the result of your brain chemistry being off in such a way that leads to depression. You are most often born with chemical depression but it can also be caused by a traumatic life event.

Chemical depression can happen to you even if your life is otherwise going great.


So, ask yourself some questions about what your life looks like these days to help you figure out what kind of depression you might have.

2. Know what is causing your situational depression

As stated above, situational depression happens when something occurs in your life that causes you extreme stress and because you haven’t yet adapted to the changes brought about as a result of that event.

Issues that can bring about situational depression include:

  • Problems at work or school
  • Illness
  • Death of a loved one
  • Moving
  • Relationship issues

Furthermore, many people who struggle with situational depression often have pre-existing experiences with some sort of trauma that might contribute to their mood changes.


Some possible experiences may be:

  • Existing mental health problems
  • Several difficult life experiences happening at once
  • Having gone through considerable stress as a child

So, take a good look at your life right now. Are you struggling with something? Is your child having issues at school? Is your marriage a mess? Are your parents ill? Anything that is out of the ordinary that's making it more difficult to function.

If you are sad and you are struggling with life events, you might be situationally depressed.

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3. Know the symptoms of situational depression

Most people with situational depression develop symptoms within roughly 90 days following the event that triggers the condition.


Symptoms can include:

  • Listlessness
  • Hopelessness
  • Lack of enjoyment of regular activities
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Sadness
  • Recurring bouts of crying
  • Loss of interest in food
  • Anxiety
  • Worry
  • Loss of Concentration
  • Withdrawal from work or friends
  • Suicidal thoughts

Symptoms of situational depression vary from person to person and usually include more than one of the symptoms above.

Review the list above carefully. If any of these depression symptoms seem familiar to you, then you might be struggling with situational depression and it’s time to deal with it.

Situational depression can cause severe disruption of your life if left untreated.

4. Treat your situational depression

In many cases, situational depression will ease on its own. There are things that you can do in the meantime to help relieve the symptoms of crippling depression.


Getting exercise, eating well, getting enough sleep, sharing your feelings and doing things that make you happy can all help ease your sense of sadness.

However, if your symptoms are seriously disrupting your life or not going away, it would be a good idea to talk to your primary care doctor about what is going on. It might be time to talk to a psychologist and/or get treated with some medication.

Either way, it is important that you pay attention to your moods so that you know if they are getting worse or better. It’s often easy to lose sight of the fact that it’s the depression that is making your life so bleak.

We start blaming ourselves for not being strong enough or outgoing enough or smart enough when in fact our self-image is clouded by the depression.


Checking in with your moods regularly so that you can deal with them properly is an important part of dealing with your situational depression.

5. Have hope

Some people with situational depression have symptoms for longer than 6 months. This is especially common when something else happens during the recovery period, which often happens because, well, this is life.

If the symptoms of depression you're experiencing are seriously impacting your life, whether just for a few weeks or a few months, reach out to your doctor to get some support. Your life just might depend on it.


Luckily, for many, situational depression can abate quickly, especially if you make a special effort to take care of yourself, sleep and eat well, get exercise and hang out with those you love.

So, have some hope that your situational depression will most likely pass, that it won’t be a part of your life forever. How you are feeling today is most likely not how you will feel in a month or two.

Learning how to cope with depression — especially situational depression — is exhausting. Life is hard enough and being sad, overwhelmed and hopeless as well can be devastating.

Fortunately, dealing with situational depression is possible. Take a good look at your life and try to identify what might be causing your sadness. Knowing what the source of your sadness is the first step to dealing with it.


Take care of yourself. Exercise, eat and sleep well. Pay attention to your moods and manage them. Have hope that, with time or with treatment, it will pass and you will get your life back.

You can do it! I promise.

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Mitzi Bockmann is an NYC-based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate who works exclusively with women to help them to be all that they want to be in this crazy world in which we live. Contact her for help or send her an email directly.