What happens when these feelings of sadness don’t subside?
After a loved one dies, those who grieve may find it difficult to function in everyday situations. Lingering emotional turmoil, a sense of shock and social withdrawal are painful but natural reactions.
Despite these expected symptoms, is it possible to become “stuck” in grief? What if the loss prompts thoughts of self-harm or even suicide? And how can trauma affect the healing process?
Symptoms of grief, depression and trauma can resemble one another. In order to respond to these symptoms appropriately and move on with life, it is crucial to understand the differences.
When Grief Becomes Clinical Depression
It’s not unusual for those who grieve to feel despondent, empty and anxious. Grief encompasses different emotions for different people, and it takes time to adjust to the loss and any accompanying changes.
Sometimes, though, the depressive state doesn’t diminish over time and continues to disrupt everyday life. This may be an indicator of a depressive disorder.
According to the American Cancer Society, about one in five bereaved people will develop major depression. It is difficult to predict whose grief will or won’t turn into depression following the death of a loved one. However, the following risk factors may increase the likelihood:
😦History of depression.
😦Little previous experience with death.
😦No support network.
😦Intense depressive reactions early in the grieving process.
😦Prior issues with alcohol or drug abuse.
It is possible to grieve without being depressed. That said, there is a difference between the sadness of grief and the unrelenting numbness of depression.
Here are signs indicating that a grieving person may also be depressed:
🙁Shows symptoms of grief for four or more months with no sign of improvement.
🙁Prolonged or severe inability to function at home, work and/or school.
🙁Stays in bed all day, doing nothing.
☹️Thinks of suicide and/or has a preoccupation with death.
☹️Speaks and moves slowly.
☹️Hallucinates, which may or may not relate to the deceased.
If symptoms persist — and especially if suicidal thoughts occur — it is imperative to reach out to a family doctor, counselor or pastor. Those with depression will not simply “snap out of it.” However, depression is highly treatable, and with competent care a healthy life can be restored.
Credits – Patricia Johnson