Most depression is “reactive”.  That is, it develops as a reaction to major stressful situations.  There are two broad categories of stress that result in almost all episodes of depression:
  • Loss
  • Being “stuck” in a highly stressful situation

Examples of loss include:

  • Bereavement
  • Redundancy
  • Disability or loss of health
  • Housing repossession
  • Children leaving home

Examples of being stuck include:

  • Abuse
  • Bullying
  • Insecure employment
  • Poor housing
  • Neighbourhood nuisance/antisocial behaviour/crime
  • Relationship breakdown

The onset of depression can make it hard to address these problems.  Also, depression can add new problems – for example lower income as a result of taking sick leave from work.  Nevertheless, it is essential to deal with these underlying triggers for depression if you are going to bring about recovery.  Otherwise, as fast as antidepressants, talking therapies and self-help strategies are helping to lift your mood and energy levels, these life stressors are dampening them down again.

Most Primary Care practices offer Brief Focused Counselling to people who have experienced major loss and who are at risk of becoming depressed as a result.  In addition, there are several voluntary sector organisations that can help with specific types of loss.  For example, Cruse Bereavement Care can help following the death of a loved one.

In a sense, dealing with loss is easier because the loss has already happened, and your depression is a part of how you respond and re-adapt to your new circumstances.  Being stuck can be more difficult because you have to make tough decisions to resolve a situation that you are at the centre of.  This, in turn, creates additional fear of uncertainty and loss.  Also, you may face a range of options.  For example, if you are being bullied at work, you might choose to stay and fight, or you might choose to leave in the hope of finding a new job.