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Situational Depression

Burdine & Brown May 4, 2020

There are a number of different types of depression. The 5th Edition of The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders lists nine distinct types. The type that I deal with in workers' compensation/job injury cases is what we would call situational depression. This depression is triggered by life-changing events such as serious injury and chronic pain, loss of one's job, and for most men a job is how we identify ourselves. This can be extremely devastating. See my FAQ titled “Do I have a claim if I suffered psychological injuries only?

Though there are many types of depression, there are similar recognizable symptoms. The below list is only a beginning of the myriad of symptoms that one can experience while in a depressive state:

  • Fatigue and lack of energy.

  • Difficulty sleeping and sleep disturbances

  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies that used to be enjoyable

  • Irritability, frustration or restlessness

  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide

  • Physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach aches, or back pain

Diet and exercise are what people like to say is the first step to treat depression. However, it is hard to exercise when you have tremendous amount of back pain. In my practice, I try to send folks to certified psychologists. Sometimes a psychiatrist is more appropriate because they can prescribe medication that is specifically for situational depression. Practical advice from a clinical psychologist can be quite helpful and insightful if a person is willing to undergo this approach.

Do remember that there is no shame in taking medication to manage your depression. Virtually all of my clients take medication for physical ailments and having a mental illness is no different. Medications can be changed by the psychiatrist at a moment's notice. Medication can be increased or decreased so long as the psychiatrist will spend time with you to determine whether the effects have been beneficial or not.

One of the keys to obtaining psychological treatment is to flatten out the valleys or the extreme lows that one falls into while in situational depression. To date, science has not found a cure for mental disorders such as depression, but help is clearly on the way with the right psychologist or psychiatrist.