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Healthy Tahoe: Difference between situational, chronic depression

Wes Irwin, MD

Recent events around the world are causing many people to feel anxious, sad and hopeless — the symptoms as for chronic depression. However, there are some key differences between chronic and situational depression that are important to understand when seeking treatment.

Chronic depression is long-term reoccurring sadness that may go on for many years, whereas situational depression is usually short-term and triggered by a specific life event.

Situational depression is generally caused by a life event: a divorce, a new job, a move, an accident … or a global pandemic. This type of depression is usually temporary and resolves itself after the person learns to cope with whatever life event triggered the sad feelings to begin with. Symptoms of situational depression include:

• Feelings of sadness, nervousness or hopelessness

• Headaches, stomachaches or fast breathing

• Changes in sleep or eating

• Using alcohol or drugs

Chronic depression, unlike situational depression, is not caused by a life event and — unfortunately — the cause is oftentimes unknown. In chronic depression, sadness is persistent for more than two weeks, and can sometimes be as intense as to cause suicidal thoughts. Symptoms include:

• Loss of interest in usual activities

• Feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness

• Changes in weight, energy, appetite and sleep

• Having trouble focusing and concentrating

• Thoughts of suicide

In terms of treatment, both types of depression will require some sort of talk therapy. For situational depression, a few counseling sessions with a good therapist may be enough to equip the patient with skills to cope with a traumatic life event. However, with chronic depression, most people need more than just therapy. 60-80% of chronically depressed patients will require some sort of combination of antidepressants and talk therapy. For especially stubborn cases of depression, ketamine infusions have become a leading treatment option, especially in combination with talk therapy.

If you are suffering from chronic depression in which typical medications don’t help, ketamine infusions have shown a 70% success rate. Ketamine infusions work quickly, oftentimes in as few as one to two infusions.

Not sure if you are suffering from situational or chronic depression? Contact our office (530-208-9355) for a free consultation. Tahoe Ketamine offers ketamine infusions for the treatment of depression and pain, as well as IV hydration therapy, which is a holistic way to support and enhance the efficacy of ketamine infusions or other depression treatment options.

Dr. Wes Irwin is the founder and medical director at Tahoe Ketamine.


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