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Johns Hopkins Health - A Down Situation

Summer 2009
Issue No. 5

A Down Situation

Date: June 24, 2009

woman looking sad

It’s near impossible to escape the ups and downs of life. Particularly with the downs, it’s also normal to become sad or unhappy when faced with disappointment and frustration, change, the loss of a loved one, or a chronic or serious medical condition.

But, says Johns Hopkins psychiatrist Karen Swartz, M.D., just because the mood change is triggered by a situation doesn’t mean it should be minimized. “Once a person has been diagnosed as having depression,” she says, “it’s the severity of the symptoms that determines a course of action, not whether it was triggered by a situation.”

Swartz warns that symptoms such as low mood, changes in sleep patterns and appetite, decreased concentration, sluggish or slowed-down feelings, not enjoying usual activities, or thoughts of dying should be treated no matter their origins.

Once symptoms have been stabilized, identifying those situational triggers becomes more important to change or modify your response to them in the future.

“You want to decrease the likelihood of relapse,” Swartz says. “If you are facing a potential trigger, it’s also helpful to begin speaking with a therapist or physician right away.”

For more information, visit or call 877-546-1872.

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