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By Chandrama Anderson

Differentiating Grief from Clinical Depression

Uploaded: Nov 15, 2019

Grief is applicable regardless of the type of loss you have been through; a death, a divorce, a job loss, etc.
 
When symptoms of grieving persist as defined by abnormal behavior that threatens your mental or physical health or safety, or interferes significantly with your social functioning, you may be experiencing the effects of depression. There is situational depression (which grief can trigger), and clinical depression.

Grief has no timeline. Little things can trigger grief: a smell, a song, a place, certain people, etc.

Here are some factors that differentiate grief from clinical depression:
 
Characteristics of  Grief:
·   Emotional distress due to the death.
·   Physical stress, perhaps similar to that of the person who died.
·   Intermittently sensing a future of healing.
·   Wish to die to be with loved one (but not suicidal).
·   Able to feel pleasure at times.
·   Able to notice and laugh at funny things.
·   Intermittent; comes and goes.
·   Normal grief is worked through without medication.
·   Medication will not resolve grief and is only useful in specific situations.

Characteristics of Depression:
·   Emotional distress,  loss of interest and pleasure not connected to the death.
·   Somatic symptoms.
·   Unable to sense a positive future, flattened feelings and expression.
Loss of hope.
·   Consider suicide as it feels there is no way out.
·   Lack of self-esteem.
·   Consistent decrease in enjoyment or pleasure.
·   Ongoing feeling of depression.
·   Therapy and medication may be required.
·   Often professional help and interventions are needed.

     
(For further information, you may want to access the diagnostic criterion of Major Depressive Disorder, per the DSM-IV.  (Diagnostics and Statistics Manual).
 
There are nine criteria in the list of depressive symptoms, and in order to be considered depressed a patient must have experienced five or more symptoms over the same two weeks. Please note that there must be a definite change from usual functioning, and either depressed mood or decreased interest or pleasure must be one of the five.
 
If you are experiencing major depression, seek professional help from a doctor and therapist. A combined treatment of psychotherapy and medication is most effective in treating depression.

If you are grieving, talk with your friends, family, clergy, etc. If you decide to see a therapist, that can be really helpful, too.

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