Reactive Depression - Discussion

As the name suggests, reactive depression arises mainly as a form of reaction to the stress caused by various events. This form of depression is considered to be one of the most severe forms of depression, especially when compared to hereditary or inherited forms of depression, because people’s reactions cannot always be limited or controlled.

Also referred to as adjustment disorder or situational depression, this type of depression has specific triggers or causes, like unexpected or sudden death of a loved one, being a victim of physical or sexual abuse, being diagnosed with a serious illness, being a victim of natural disasters or natural calamities, and having to relocate to a foreign country all by oneself, etc; these are some possible factors responsible for reactive depression. Here, affected persons are reacting to a traumatic experience which impacts their mind deeply and they are unable to come to terms with the prevailing condition.

Some of the common symptoms demonstrated by patients suffering from this form of depression include inability to sleep or insomnia, lack of appetite or overeating, inability to stop thinking about the situation or cause of depression, inability to cope with the sorrow or grief caused, complete withdrawal from social engagements, lack of enthusiasm about life in general, and inability to overcome the tragic situation or stress despite several attempts.

Generally, reactive depression lasts for over six months to a year in some cases, whereas in some it might disappear within a couple of months. Therefore, there is really no fixed duration for this form of depression, and it depends entirely on the nature of the cause and the ability of the afflicted person to overcome the stress factors.

Some tips to help affected persons overcome reactive depression include the following:

  • Allow the affected person to grieve, cry, speak, and share their experience with as many people as possible.

  • Actively discourage persons suffering from this type of depression to bottle up or repress their feelings. Repressed emotions are like pushing the dirt under the carpet, which just accumulates there and pollutes the environment. Sorrow and grief should be expressed and gotten out of the system for the healing process to start.

  • If the situation can be changed or altered, one must advise the affected person to boldly take the decision and remove oneself from there. For example, a wife who is subject to domestic abuse, a job that is too stressful, etc, are situations one can exit from and stop going through the resultant stress on a regular basis.

  • Keeping afflicted persons occupied physically as well as emotionally. Joining a dance or aerobics class, cultivating a new hobby, volunteering one’s services at a nearby camp, etc, will slowly relax their mind and body, thus helping them to let go and move on in life.

If the symptoms of depression continue and the affected person is not able to recover from them, it would then be advisable that the person seek professional help by attending counseling and psychotherapy sessions. If required, a consultation with a psychiatrist and some prescribed anti-depressants might help, too.

However, it must be noted that almost all persons suffering from reactive depression overcome this condition sooner or later and get back to normalcy. The duration or time taken might vary, but, ultimately, they do get over the stress arising from various reasons.

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