The pendulum of life swings between joy, love, and beauty, but it must also sometimes swing into darker times of loss and grief. The death of a loved one will trigger intense feelings of despair. While the grieving process is often associated with sadness and feelings of hopelessness, people sensitive to depression are at risk of slipping into a depressive episode.
Whether you find yourself navigating through the grief of losing someone close or you are grappling with depression, strategies are available that can foster healing.
What’s The Difference Between Grief and Depression?
Grieving is often accompanied by feelings resembling depression, including intense sadness and the desire to avoid personal interactions and social gatherings. However, there are critical differences between normal grief and depression.
The first significant difference is symptom duration. A grieving person will fluctuate between relative normalcy and waves of sadness brought on by sudden and overwhelming thoughts of their loss. People with depression constantly struggle with depression-induced feelings and emotions daily, often with no discernible cause.
Grieving people may avoid social situations for a time, but most will readily accept support from close friends or family members. Depressed people commonly avoid all forms of support and shun everybody, often because they feel undeserving.
Grieving people may take time off work or school commitments to give themselves time to adjust to the loss. However, once they get over the initial shock, they resume everyday life, understanding that regular duties will occupy and comfort their mind while they allow time to heal their wounds.
In contrast, depressed people often experience severe symptoms that keep them from essential responsibilities like school and work, often for long periods.
Understanding Complicated Grief
Grief is a normal emotion accompanying the loss of a loved one, but some may experience a more profound, longer-lasting grief known as “complicated grief.”
Complicated grief shares many symptoms with depression but can also trigger or worsen the symptoms in someone already coping with the disease.
If you notice any of the following symptoms, you may be experiencing complicated grief:
- Your feelings of grief have intensified rather than declined with time
- Feeling that life has lost all meaning
- You have a long-lasting bitterness over your loss
- Struggling to accept that your loved one is gone
- Inability to focus on anything other than your loss
When to Ask for Help
The permanence of death makes losing a loved one a life-altering event. If you find everyday tasks beyond you, guilt over the loss, or have thoughts of suicide and feeling like you have no purpose, these are all signs that it’s time to ask your mental health professional for help.
When you find the thought of moving on from your grief too challenging, a counselor specializing in grief therapy can be a lifeline for healing. Call today for a complimentary first session and start planning for a future where grief and depression do not rule your life. For more information, visit this page: Depression Treatment