An important distinction to make when talking about depression, is the difference between Clinical Depression (sometimes called Major Depressive Disorder or Major Depression) and Situational Depression (sometimes referred to as Adjustment Disorder).
Symptoms of both can be identical; the main difference between the two is the time component and the treatment component.
Situational depression is when one becomes depressed after some trauma or tragic event. This can range from experiencing the death of a loved one, losing one’s job or house, experiencing a major natural disaster, divorce, or bankruptcy just to name a few. If a person does not know how to cope with a major change in their life, they can develop situational depression. Situational depression should not last for longer than about six months, or the person’s diagnoses should be re-evaluated.
Treatment for situational depression usually does not require medication or a professional therapist’s counseling, unless severe. Treatment options include eating a healthy diet, engaging in regular exercise, talking about your feelings to close others, and joining a formal support group. Situational depression should go away on its own with the help of these suggestions.
Clinical depression is more severe, and the symptoms experienced can be the same as situational depression (anger, feelings of hopelessness, withdrawal from family members, sad mood) but more severe. These people’s lives are more impacted by their depression such as everyday tasks and interactions with family or friends.
Symptoms found in Clinical Depression but not situational: development of abnormal sleeping patterns, increased use of drugs/alcohol, and hallucinations, delusions, and other forms of psychotic disturbances. People with Clinical Depression often have chemical brain imbalances; meaning that an outside factor (such as experienced with Situational Depression) does NOT need to be present in order for one to be clinically depressed.
Another difference of Clinical Depression is that the person is experiencing AT LEAST five symptoms of depression all at one time. This factor does not have to be present for one to be diagnosed with Situational Depression.
Treatment for clinical depression may involve either psychotherapy/cognitive behavioral therapy, medication (anti-depressant) or a mix of both. Another treatment option is to temporary stay in a controlled facility.
Source: Elements Behavioral Health: Creating Extraordinary Lives
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