3 Things to Do When Situational Depression Gets You Down

March 5, 2021 Mahevash Shaikh

Fact: depression is not always clinical. Sometimes, it occurs not due to changes in the brain but because of a difficult life situation. I know this because I have experienced both clinical depression and situational depression over the years. And although their causes are different, they have similar effects, effects that make life harder than usual. 

First Things First, What Is Situational Depression?

Since it doesn't get as much attention as it should, you may be wondering what situational depression is. Healthline defines it as:

"A short-term, stress-related type of depression. It can develop after you experience a traumatic event or a series of events. It's also known as reactive depression."1

In my experience, the situation(s) may be anything: a breakup, bad grades, unemployment, falling sick, losing one's home, death, trauma, and so on. Whether it's major or minor, the magnitude of the situation does not matter. What matters is how that situation negatively affects an individual. Anything that overwhelms someone to a point where they are unable to manage it can cause situational depression. Once the stressful situation is resolved or improved, this type of depression naturally goes away. 

It might sound as if situational depression is not as serious as clinical depression. However, in my experience, this is not true. While the former tends to have a shorter life span than the latter, both are equally capable of causing despair, hopelessness, insomnia, fatigue, and suicidal ideation. Also, over time, situational depression may lead to clinical depression. Therefore, it should not be ignored just because it is not clinical in nature. 

How to Deal with Overwhelming Situational Depression

  1. Talk to someone about it -- Don't bottle up your problems. Even if you think that others have it worse, open up about the way you are feeling. Confide in friends and family who will listen and be empathetic. And if anyone plies you with toxic positivity, don't let their words invalidate your depression. Keep them at arm's length and consult a therapist instead. Due to their objectivity, a mental health professional can often help you put things in perspective better than someone close to you. 
  2. Force yourself to focus on solutions -- Depression makes you ruminate about your problems, with each rumination making said problems seem more permanent. I have it on good authority (mine) that the way to break this vicious cycle is to focus on solutions. Naturally, this is very difficult, so what I do is force myself to make a list of my challenges and their possible solutions. Writing it all down helps me see things in a better light and offers a glimmer of hope as well. 
  3. Step outside yourself -- Not all of us can afford therapy. Also, finding solutions to life challenges isn't easy -- especially when a challenge has been around for a significant period of time. In times like these, one has to get creative. Shift the focus from whatever it is you are struggling with to something else. Anything that engages you, be it a TV show or volunteering at a charity event, is a great idea when you feel your troubles are endless. When you step outside yourself, your mind gets a welcome break from your struggles. I do this whenever I get overwhelmed, and everything does seem a little better afterward. 

How do you prevent situational depression from bringing you down? Please let me know in the comments section below. 


  1. Cirino, E., "Situational Depression: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment." Healthline, October 2018.

APA Reference
Shaikh, M. (2021, March 5). 3 Things to Do When Situational Depression Gets You Down, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 14 from

Author: Mahevash Shaikh

Mahevash Shaikh is a millennial blogger, author, and poet who writes about mental health, culture, and society. She lives to question convention and redefine normal. You can find her at her blog and on Instagram and Facebook.

April, 20 2021 at 4:08 pm

I must also have a situational depression: a dog about to die, a husband living in his own world, the forced isolation of covid since last year, a degenerating health problem in my knees... and no one to talk about. It's just overwhelming and consuming but I keep looking how to scape from all this.

April, 22 2021 at 8:55 am

That sounds really overwhelming, Marga. If you have no one to talk to, please don't bottle up your feelings. Find a therapist that accepts sliding scale fees (many good professionals are accepting them nowadays) and book an appointment as soon as possible.

April, 19 2021 at 11:25 pm

Often times I find myself down, and though it's not that often, in a way if feels often. I feel that my depression is situational because of many life changes that I am currently going through, and have gone through. What I feel is causing this depression is my current situation which is being unemployed due to getting fired from my job for a criminal charge that I got about a year back which is something I didn't even do. This struggle affects me directly and puts me in a negative situation. The first thing that comes to my mind in preventing situational depression from affecting me more and more is that I like to look within myself, and not be too hard on myself. Yes we must attain responsibility for our actions, and the those effects. We must also take responsibility for how we deal with other situations that we don't directly bring unto ourselves. Doing this allows me to understand that there is a problem, but at the end of the day that I am just a human being, who just like anyone else has feelings and emotions that are tentative to change due to life and its changes. After I understand there is a problem I like to think of why it is bringing problems to my life and dissect it fully until I am able to understand all of the minor and major elements of it. This allows me to focus on the little things which can carry just a significant effect as the big ones. Last but not least, I like to learn from that situation and find a way to prevent myself from going through that situation again while thinking of the past which caused it and dealing with it, understanding what I can do in the present, and thinking that I will do anything I can in my power to not deal with something like that in the future. Along doing all of this I try to give myself time for myself, time in which I 100% do not think of the situation so I don't keep getting depressed. I also recommend to go to one of your favorite places to go and just take a breather, and be by yourself because at the end of the day you have to be by yourself to truly understand yourself and love yourself and in doing so you realize what is truly best for you and how to get to where you want to be. I hope this helps, and it may not be the best advice but it doesn't hurt to try.

April, 22 2021 at 8:59 am

Sound advice, Frank. A lot of us are experiencing situational depression these days and these tips will surely help anyone who reads them. Thanks for sharing and take care.

Gregg C Hardin
March, 9 2021 at 6:50 am

I believe I have situational depression relating to where I live. I live in a cluster of buildings in the SF Bay Area and have a lot of low-income clients living here. I am on section 8 and although it is in its own way okay to live here there are moments where I want to move out. There are abusers here that go out of their way to mock me. I have some PTSD going on and some of it is related to my past and my diagnosis of Paranoid Schizophrenia. I cannot afford to move to another apartment. My mother and brother tell me that my apartment is adequate and I should just try to get along with the others here. Well, I think they are wrong. I try to beat the system here by going online at night and napping during the day. I am also situationally depressed, for I have a degree in Technical writing which I am not using. I am a couple of days short of turning 60 and feeling the stigma ofo my mental illness and being an older, seasoned, worker. I have so much to offer, because of my experiences and the impact they have had on me. I like to feel that I am positive overall but do have some rumination on past hurts and unresolved problems that nag me to do something different.

March, 9 2021 at 9:21 am

I am pained to hear of your troubles, Gregg. I have PTSD too and every day is a struggle. I have a degree I am not using too and though it's by choice, it's still frustrating because engineering jobs pay well. Please take a look at this resource to help you cope with what you are going through:…

Woodrow brown
March, 8 2021 at 12:27 am

I am 💯 percent that I have situational depression. I am struggling everyday. Some are worst than others. I try to stay busy. Two jobs and school. I wish I could be normal.

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