Adjustment Disorder with Depressed Mood, also known as Situational Depression, is another subtype of depression. Adjustment Disorder with Depressed Mood is where depressive symptoms mainly consist of low mood, tearfulness, and feelings of hopelessness. These depressive symptoms occur in response to a stressor, such as losing a job, financial problems, relationship problems, and losing a loved one, just to name a few.
The depressive symptoms of sadness, tearfulness, and hopelessness present in Adjustment Disorder with Depressed Mood do not meet the criteria for a major depressive episode. However, during the course of an Adjustment Disorder, one may develop more depressive symptoms, in which case the diagnosis of major depressive disorder may be more appropriate, or if manic or mixed episodes were present, then bipolar depression may be more appropriate.
So the depressive symptoms only occur in association with a recent stressor, and the depressive symptoms that are mainly present are low mood, tearfulness, and feelings of hopelessness. Again, if five or more depressive symptoms are present, then this is not an Adjustment Disorder with Depressed Mood, and one needs to look at the other subtypes of depression. In addition, the depressive symptoms from Adjustment Disorder with Depression Mood resolves when the stressor is no longer there, and does not last longer than 6 months from when the stressor ended.
However, if the depressive symptoms continue despite the stressor being removed, then the person may have developed Major Depressive Disorder, and the treatment plan needs to be switched to accommodate the new diagnosis.
The treatment for Adjustment Disorder with Depressed Mood is focused on addressing the stressor, and how to cope with it. Stay tuned for upcoming articles to get help and treatment for Depressive Disorders, such as Adjustment Disorder with Depressed Mood.
photo credit: Aaron Stidwell Face full of tears via photopin (license)
Carlo Carandang, MD, is a psychiatrist who has over 15 years experience treating patients with depression and anxiety. In addition, Dr. Carlo has done research and taught students and doctors about depression and anxiety. His other popular website, AnxietyBoss.com, has received over 5 million views to date.