Do You Have The Warning Signs of Situational Depression?

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Your covers feel like a refuge of peace and solitude. A wave of sadness and despair wash over you like a warm summer mist. A mist, that seems to provide a sanctuary of separation. A sanctuary, that does not leave room for criticisms, insults, rejection, feelings of inferiority, vulnerability or accusations. Unfettered thoughts roam freely through your mind; “I am blue. I am sad. I am empty. I am depressed.”

The Difference Between Feeling Low and Suffering a Real Disorder

Most of us have occasions when we feel low and fatigued by life. However, there is a distinct difference between occasional blue seasons and that of a major depressive disorder. It would make more sense if you saw yourself like the people on the commercials with the cloud that follows them relentlessly. However, you know that your momentary mood will shake in a few hours or a day or two. So what does this mean? Are you suffering from a mental disorder or is your despair directly connected to a recent situation?

Looking back on a low mood, which had you bedridden and detached, can seem rather trivial. You may wonder, “Why was I so blue?” You may even feel silly for behaving that way. Once the mist lifts and you are able to inhale and exhale with vigor, you think to yourself, “What was all the fuss about?” But this very question may prove to be the key to your next situational depressive episode.

7 Key Questions To Help Understand Stressful Live Events (SLE)

Situational depression, also known as reactive depression: This type of reaction is thought to be universal and frequently seen in patients who have had to cope with events of personal injustice, humiliation, frustration, and helplessness (Linden et. al., 2007). A stressful life event (SLE) can be events that would seem insignificant to others, however, to you the event was perceived as an offense to you. A feeling as if there has been a small pinch to your inner self. Any situation that leaves you feeling deflated and helpless can be considered as a SLE. When this happens, it is imperative that you ask yourself some difficult and honest questions.

  • When did I start to feel this way?
  • What was said or done that served as a precursor to my ill feelings?
  • Do I feel ashamed?
  • Do I feel embarrassed?
  • Do I feel humiliated?
  • Do I feel exposed?
  • Do I feel powerless?

If you are able to ask yourself these powerful, yet painfully uncomfortable questions, you are well on your way to identifying the problem. This in turn affords you the ability to know which tools you will need to shake the very negative feelings that ail you.

Understanding how and where you lost your pleasant mood is as important to your journey towards truth and peace as your car keys would be to your actual travels. Tracing your steps back to the very place your soul felt a little pinch, will aid you in uncovering your current sadness. Was it the grocery store clerk who made the flippant observation in regards to your slow pace of paying at the register? Was it the co-worker who beat you to the punch of your own presentation? Was it the critical and disappointing look from your teenager when you forgot to pick that item up from the store?

Steps You Can Take to Empower Yourself

While these scenarios may seem trivial, identifying the very place where you lost your pleasant mood will empower you to begin the process of minimizing these SLE’s from having any power over you in the future. Identifying when, understanding how, gaining insight into why, and collecting the tools to assist with what to do, will be the learned process which leads to a more regulated and stable affect. Steps to take:

  • Identifying when
  • Discovering what
  • Understanding how
  • Gaining insight into why
  • Make a Switch

Teaching your mind to deliberately walk through these steps allows you to switch cognitive gears. The phrase “switching cognitive gears” is used to call attention to the fact that cognitive functioning involves the capacity to shift between cognitive modes, from automatic processing to conscious engagement and back again (Louis & Sutton, 1991). Learning to be cognitively engaged is a skill which can be learned. It can be the last and final stage to gaining a more congruent affect with the strong, balanced, and centered way you envision yourself to be.

Help Yourself Through Self Assessment

Lastly, the occasional blue mood is normal. But if you find that these moments of disparity are a persistent pattern, you may be suffering from more acute symptoms. In which, mental or medical assistance is imperative. You are the only one who knows the degree and frequency of your symptoms, so ask yourself the following questions:

  • Have I been feeling sad and disconnected for more than 2-4 weeks?
  • Is it difficult to fully engage with my loved ones?
  • Have I lost interest in the things I used to enjoy?
  • Is it difficult for me to concentrate?
  • Is it difficult to make seemingly easy decisions?
  • Is my energy lower than usually?
  • Am I eating less or more than usual?

If you answered yes to two or more of these questions, there is hope. Help is a phone call away. You do not have to suffer alone and you shouldn’t have to. Please visit your local Psychology Today directory to find a therapist to partner with you to begin the healing process.

Final Thoughts to Consider

If you find the information to be helpful, you may be suffering from the occasional situational depressive episode. So allow this article to be the beginning of regaining your cognitive empowerment. However, if you find that you need assistance in achieving the ability to govern your thoughts, you may consider partnering with a mental health professional. While it may be a scary and intimidating thought to seek counseling, you may ultimately find it to be a process by which you gain the skills and tools to achieve balance and peace.

Article References

  • Linden, M., Rotter, M. Baumann, K., & Lieberei, B. (2007). Posttraumatic Embitterment Disorder: definition, evidence, diagnosis, treatment. Hong Kong J Psychiatry, 17, 103-104.
  • Louis, M. R., & Sutton, R. I. (1991). Switching cognitive gears: From habits of mind to active thinking. Human Relations, January, 44(1), 55-76.


April St. John is currently a resident and a dual-licensure candidate in both Professional Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy.  She specializes in marital concerns, conflict resolution, depression, anxiety, and stress and anger management.  April partners with individuals, couples, and small groups, utilizing a solution-focused approach toward resolution, healing and peace. April holds a Masters in Professional Counseling, with a concentration in Marriage and Family Therapy, from Liberty University and a B.A. in Theology.  As a conference and seminar speaker, April enjoys empowering women to begin living new thoughts.  After 13 years as a stay at home mother, April now has the advantage of understanding the conflicts of working women and those who are on the journey of launching into new endeavors.   She recently launched a blog exploring the power of thinking at Living A New Thought.