As the events and life changes that caused the reactive depression resolve, often, so does the reactive depression. A short course of medication or antidepressents can be very effective in reducing depressive symptoms and is discontinued after the stress-related illness has showed signs of resolving. Depending on the severity of the depression, the length of time present and the recommendation of your doctor, treatment or management without treatment can include:
- anti-anxiety and/or antidepressant medications taken over the course of several months
- Psychotherapy, the most common form of talk treatment -- either one-on-one with a counselor, in a group session or with family members -- provides an outlet and the therapist can suggest coping mechanisms to use after counseling ends.
- at-home or self-help measures such as getting enough sleep and exercise, joining a support group, talking about stressors with friends, family or clergy [source: Mayo Clinic]
If you know that a stressful event or big life change is coming and have some time to plan, you also can work to decrease the chances of getting reactive depression. One method includes recording all of the aspects of the stressor that you most dread or fear will impact your life negatively and work on planning for them in advance. Just as external events impact our mind set, being able to arrange and prepare our physical environments ahead of time can relieve the stress before it builds. A family moving to a new state might try turning the focus of school-aged children away from leaving friends and teachers behind and toward area attractions in the new home.
If big changes of any kind are pending and you can plan, try not to get worn down in the details. Adequate rest rather than exhaustion can greatly impact how frazzled and out of sorts you'll be when the stress hits. If facing an unexpected major life change, many advise facing it head on, but there's probably a reason we're told to sit down before getting big news: It gives us pause and rests our bodies. Devastating news or events can trigger reactive depression, but taking a pause to hear and allow the change to sink in instead of charging into the stress of planning and recovery may help better prepare the body and mind for the stress and ultimate healing to come.