Reactive Depression (A guide)

In this article, we will describe what reactive depression is, its symptoms, causes, diagnosis, dangers, as well as treatment.

Reactive Depression (A guide)

What is Reactive Depression?

Reactive depression is a disorder that occurs as a specific mental reaction to traumatic events or frequent stressful situations.

Psychopathology is quite common, manifested by constant despondency and longing, and is difficult to diagnose, since patients rarely go to a narrow-profile doctor.

The disease is dangerous with the risk of complications’ development; therefore, when the first alarming symptoms appear, you should consult a psychiatrist.

The Symptoms of Reactive Depression

In the case of acute reactive depression, the following symptoms indicate the onset of the pathological process:

  • Psychomotor agitation,
  • Panic,
  • Increasing anxiety,
  • Weakness in the muscles of the limbs,
  • Heart palpitations,
  • Dizziness,
  • Hypotension (lowering arterial pressure),
  • Disorientation in space.

Such symptoms are much like a panic attack. After some time, the symptoms are replaced with longing, hopelessness, and futility of all actions of a person.

Then a person experiences despair, panic, and various phobias suddenly appear.

Most often, patients face the fear of death.

In acute reactive depression, eating disorders are common too, in particular, an increase or decrease of the appetite if the pathology proceeds with severe alarming symptoms are observed severe insomnia and chronic fatigue.

Prolonged reactive depression manifests itself immediately with depressive symptoms, without previous signs of panic and anxiety.

The appearance of typical depressive symptoms characterizes this form of the disorder:

  • Yearning;
  • Tearfulness;
  • Weakness;
  • Apathy;
  • Drowsiness;
  • Hypochondria;
  • Asthenic syndrome;
  • Pathological guilt;
  • Self-flagellation,
  • Trouble sleeping,
  • Eating disorders,
  • Weight loss,
  • Concentration difficulties and others.

Symptoms of the disorder do not change during the day, which makes it possible to distinguish reactive depression from other types of the disorder, in which the symptoms of the disease decrease in the evening.

Reactive Depression (A guide)

Reactive Depression Causes

The exact causes and mechanisms of the development of the disease depend on the form of reactive depression.

Two main types are distinguished – acute and prolonged reactive depression.

Acute reactive depression

Acute reactive depression is also called temporary. It occurs as an instant mental reaction to severe stress or a traumatic event.

The cause of this disorder is an event that is important for human life.

As a rule, the symptoms of acute depression are rapidly increasing, but the episode lasts no more than 4-5 weeks.

Prolonged reactive depression

Prolonged reactive depression is a dangerous pathology, which causes are not often obvious.

It occurs in a long period after experiencing an event. In other words, a person may encounter a traumatic situation that will harm the psyche but will not cause depression.

At the same time, the psyche becomes vulnerable, so any stress and anxiety weaken it.

Over time, stressful situations accumulate, and depression occurs.

The main reason for its development is precisely the trauma that occurred in the past, and stress and other experiences are only exacerbating factors.

Another scenario for the development of prolonged depression is multiple minor stresses or life failures.

Separately, these events are not considered as traumatic factors. Moreover, a person may dismiss them or not pay attention to them.

At the same time, permanent existence in a state of stress is a difficult test for the psyche and nervous system; therefore, over time, leads to the development of reactive depression.

On average, episodes of reactive depression last from one month to two years.

The severity of any type of depression, including the reactive depression can be measured by different tests.

But these are done once the person is diagnosed with this disorder.

The Dangers of Reactive Depression

It is essential not to try to treat the pathology yourself, since a qualified approach, in general, allows you to cope with the symptoms without complications, while inadequate therapy increases the risk of complications.

Psychogenic (reactive) depression can turn into endogenous in the absence of timely treatment.

This is due to a malfunction in the work of mood neurotransmitters against the background of the nervous system’s depletion and mental stress during reactive depression.

Also, among the likely complications:

  • Chronic asthenic syndrome;
  • Apathy;
  • Panic attacks;
  • Anxiety disorder;
  • Dysthymia;
  • Sleep disorders.

The asthenic syndrome is manifested by chronic fatigue, lack of physical and mental strength for professional and domestic activities.

This disorder dramatically affects the quality of life and is difficult to treat, especially if it becomes chronic.

Reactive Depression (A guide)

Reactive Depression Treatment

The general principle for the treatment of reactive depression is the combination of medications and psychotherapy.

Treatment is selected individually for each patient and depends on the characteristics of the disease.

It is recommended instead of trying to treat yourself, talking to a professional, as with depression, it is necessary to influence its cause, and not only deal with the symptoms.

For example, aphasia in reactive depression can be directly related to a traumatic situation that led to the development of this mental disorder, so treatment should help a person to cope with his thoughts and emotional experiences.

Medication

In reactive depression, the doctor prescribes drug therapy to reduce or eliminate the main symptoms of the disorder.

For this purpose, he may prescribe tricyclic antidepressants or monoamine oxidase inhibitors. Antidepressants of other groups may be used as well.

In acute depression, tranquilizers and antipsychotics can additionally be used to cope with stress and reduce the patient’s general emotional tension.

Additionally, the doctor may use mood stabilizers – drugs from the group of normotimics.

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy can be helpful in reactive depression treatment, as well.

Practiced treatment methods are cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy or Behavioral Activation, gestalt therapy; art therapy; and group sessions of psychotherapy.

In depression, a course of treatment lasts at least 3-4 weeks.

In the case of severe reactive depression, psychotherapy is accompanied by medication.

The duration of the treatment depends on the characteristics of the body and the severity of symptoms. 

Reactive Depression (A guide)

Alternative Treatments

The doctor can supplement the therapy with vitamins, physiotherapy, and herbal remedies.

Vitamins are prescribed to accelerate the recovery of the nervous system.

For this are recommended B vitamins, magnesium preparations, and Omega-3-6-9.

Physiotherapy helps to speed up the healing process – acupuncture, electric sleep, massage, or exercise therapy.

At home, it is recommended to use aromatherapy.

Grounding techniques can also be used to treat depression.

Recommended books and sources

  1. Back from the Blues: Getting to the Other Side of Reactive Depression
  2. My Kind of Sad: What It’s Like to Be Young and Depressed
  3. Reflexercise: Train Your Brain to be LESS Reactive to Stress, Anxiety, Chronic Pain, Depression, Trauma and PTSD Right from Home
  4. HFNE “Unipolar Depression”
  5. HFNE “Essential Oils for Depression”

FAQs about the topic “Reactive Depression.”

What is reactive stress?

Stress reactivity is the ability to respond to internal or external stressors.

It underlies individual differences in responses to stressors and is supposed to be a vulnerability factor for the development of diseases.

Can you get time off work for mental health?

You can get time off work for mental health.

The thing is that often, it is impossible to keep your diagnosis private; at least your manager may know about your condition.

What does a reactive state mean?

The reactive state is a state of depression that is caused by events raised by severe life events.

Reactive depression is a disorder that occurs as a specific mental reaction to traumatic events or frequent stressful situations.

What is situational anxiety?

Situational depression is reactive depression; it is a disorder that occurs as a specific mental reaction to traumatic events or frequent stressful situations.

Psychopathology is quite common, manifested by constant despondency and longing, and is difficult to diagnose, since patients rarely go to a narrow-profile doctor.

The disease is dangerous with the risk of complications’ development; therefore, when the first alarming symptoms appear, you should consult a psychiatrist.

What is unipolar depression?

Unipolar depression or major depressive disorder (MDD) is a form of recurring depression without manic manifestations.

The lack of family history of mania in first-degree relatives, as well as characteristic biological and therapeutic reactions, confirm the diagnosis

Is folic acid good for depression?

Folic acid is good for depression.

Researchers found that patients with depression of folic acid in serum concentrations and red blood cells were significantly less than those who did not suffer from depression.

The authors note that low folic acid levels are a characteristic of patients who have also recently recovered from depression.

In this regard, they suggest taking folic acid supplements for a year after leaving the state of depression in order to stabilize their emotional state.

Conclusion

Reactive depression is a disorder that occurs as a specific mental reaction to traumatic events or frequent stressful situations.

Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.

It can be treated by the combination of medication and psychotherapy, as well as in some alternative ways (physiotherapy, vitamins, or herbs).


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What we recommend for depression

Professional counselling

If you are suffering from depression then ongoing professional counselling may be your ideal first point of call. Counselling will utilize theories such as Cognitive behavioural therapy which will help you live a more fulfilling life.


References

  1. Situational depression or clinical depression?
  2. Understanding Situational Depression

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