Grief Versus Depression


depressionisrealGrief and depression share similar symptoms: sadness, tears, lack of appetite, difficulty sleeping. It is easy to mistake one for the other. When people experience major upheavels–such as the death of a loved one or pet, a move to a different community, or dealing with a life-threatening illness in a loved one or yourself—it is common to shut down.

Although few people mourning a loss experience clinical depression, sometimes these major life events can trigger a major depressive episode. It can difficult to determine when grief becomes depression. Here are some ways to tell, according to Karen Swartz, MD, Director of Clinical Programs at the Johns Hopkins Moods Disorders Center in a Depression & Anxiety Bulletin.

  • The sadness of grief comes in waves with different varying degrees of intensity and bouts of crying, and feelings of intense sadness, guilt, anger, irritability, or loneliness.
  • A grieving person, however, can enjoy some of life’s activities.
  • Grief is generally time limited and resolves on its own.
  • Depression is more persistent and constant sadness. Depressed persons have a consistent inability to enjoy pleasurable life activities.
  • Depression is marked by “muted” or “deadened” feelings.
  • When successful,  mourning entails a gradual shift  from painful thoughts to positive ones about the future. Slowly a person begins to enjoy elements of her life again. With depression the pain sticks.
  • Symptoms of grief turned depression can include: physical symptoms that mimic the illness or injury of the person who died; overuse of alcohol, illegal drugs, or prescription drugs; persistent depression; chronic sleep disturbances; inability to carry out normal daily routines; and thoughts of or attempts at suicide.

Originally published on Sanity Break at Everyday Health.

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Therese Borchard
I am a writer and chaplain trying to live a simple life in Annapolis, Maryland.

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2 Responses
  1. Charlotte

    Try something different. Ask God for help. He WILL answer in some way. Try Kefir. If you are readying this, listen to hay house radio. Imagine one good thing you want to happen. Keep imagining it. Start again, Stay in this moment and listen to your breathing. Let your thoughts pass by if they are not positive. You do not have to accept any thought that is negative or any thought that makes you sad. Choose your thoughts! Once you get a positive thought going, dwell on it. Figure out why you don’t like this moment. Then say it out loud. Is that true? If it’s bad and true, switch to the exact opposite and dwell on that. Sorry, if this simplistic but I need simple when I’m really miserable. Just KNOW that there is love out there. Without it this world would fall apart. Choose to love yourself. Choose to be kind to yourself. Choose to do something loving for yourself. Your thoughts create your future. Your future start right after now. Think of as many grand scenarios as you possibly can and decide which ones you are going to experience. YOU decide. It’s your life. Your loved one would never want you to live in the pit. so let grab a wonderful thought and climb out of the pit, one thought at a time. If you can’t do thoughts, then think of words like happy, love, wonderful, joyful, pretty, beautiful, peaceful, glorious, goodness, yummy, faithful, self-control, positive, grade A, stupendous, wildly funny, laugh, etc. Watch a funny movie.