Situational depression: Validity of the concept
The validity of the concept of situational (i.e. reactive) depression as distinct from other major depressive subtypes is examined in terms of psychosocial stressors, personality features, current symptomatology, and clinical course and follow-up. Thirty-eight patients with a recent onset of situational major depressive disorder (i.e. the disorder developed after an event or in a situation the diagnostician deemed likely to have contributed to the episode at that time) were compared with 68 non-situational major depressive patients. These patients were participants in the clinical studies of the NIMH-Clinical Research Branch Collaborative Program on the Psychobiology of Depression. No significant differences between the two groups were found in the total number, content areas, or other categorizations of life events, experienced prior to onset. Some statistically significant differences in current symptomatology and in clinical course and follow-up measures were obtained, but there were none in personality traits. Implications of these results in relation to previously published reports are discussed and caution is recommended in the use of the term situational depression until more definitive data become available.