What is the Difference Between Depression and Situational Sadness?

Question: 

What is the difference between depression and situational sadness?

Answer: 

Having a significant brain injury is a life-changing situation. There is appropriately some situational sadness because life has changed with that. As a professional, you have to assess that. If the person with the brain injury continues working in therapy and making goals, then it may not be depression but a very appropriate reaction to a change in their life. However, situational sadness can easily cross over into significant depression if it continues for too long, is really impacting participation in therapy, or working towards the future. If this is the case, you would do a more formal assessment for depression and then evaluate treatment options.

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Posted on BrainLine August 7, 2018.

About the author: Jesse Fann, MD

Jesse Fann, M.D., M.P.H., is a consultation-liaison psychiatrist in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Washington and an adjunct professor in the UW departments of Rehabilitation Medicine and Epidemiology. His clinical interests include consultation-liaison psychiatry, psychiatric oncology and neuropsychiatry. His research interests include psychiatric epidemiology, health services research, psychiatric oncology and neuropsychiatry.