Spontaneous Vs. Reactive Development of Symptoms (and Treatment)

Psychology is a science. But not everything in the field of psychology has a clear cause and effect the way that other sciences do. This is especially common in with the development of anxiety, depression, and related disorders. Sometimes the symptoms are reactive. But quite often the symptoms are completely spontaneous.

How Anxiety and Depression Develop

So often, in the media in our own lives, we talk about anxiety and depression as though they always develop as the result of something –

  • The result of a recent difficult life event.
  • The result of a tough childhood.
  • The result of a loss or change, etc.

To be fair, many people develop anxiety and depression because something difficult is or has occurred in their lives. For many, anxiety is reactive.

But it is not always a reactive condition.

It is possible to develop anxiety and depression without any specific trigger. It may be something that accumulates and builds over time, slowly, either from unhealthy personality issues/habits, or simply for no discernable reason at all. This type of mental health issue is more spontaneous, or at least gradual enough that its origins are not always clear.

Why Reactive vs. Spontaneous Matter

When you come to see me for therapy on Long Island, it helps for us to start by looking at the source of your distress. Knowing how it developed can help guide treatment. For example, when your issue is reactive, it may help to focus more on learning to cope with a particular event.

We may still need to treat anxiety and depression separately (since once they develop they tend to stick around), but we’d start with strategies to make sure that the event that caused it is not continuing to lead to distress.

On the other hand, if it seems to be more spontaneous, then the treatment should focus on the broader personality issues that are driving the symptoms. Coping strategies for all stressors that a person may experience in life should be a focus as well.

Treating Anxiety and Depression on Long Island, NY

There is a lot of overlap between how to treat reactive anxiety or depression, and spontaneous anxiety or depression. Both are very difficult conditions that affect a person’s quality of life. But determining which type the person is experiencing is also important, as learning more about your experience is what will drive the correct and most effective treatment.