Distinguishing complicated grief from depression

photo by Greg Lincoln

by Greg Lincoln

Talking about loss and bereavement has led us to the discussion of depression. Sometimes complicated grief can be confused with this feeling, this condition of depression. It is important to know the difference between these two so that we can be helpful to those who are suffering and enduring these conditions.
When a person has symptoms of complicated grief, they are experiencing a persistent yearning and wanting of the deceased person. Don’t we feel this every day? Yes we do. Why? Because our love for them exceeds all else. It is that homesickness that we get when we think about our loved one who has gone on before us. It is there all the time, inside of our minds, hidden behind the deep pools of our eyes.
Depression is a pervasive sadness and loss of interest and pleasure. People who are suffering from this very serious condition do not enjoy the activities that they used to love doing. Sometimes they have changes in appetite that result in weight loss or gain. Finding sleep is hard, or they sleep too much. There may be feelings of worthlessness or guilt. Difficulty thinking or concentrating may be hard as well as making decisions.
These symptoms are reason enough for us to help our loved ones get better. The sooner the better, redeem that time.
When we lose someone we love that is a part of us there is intense, powerful, painwracking grief. Most of us have felt this before and it is awful, the most horrible feeling known to man. It is especially grievous and sorrowful if it is unexpected or sudden. This extreme grief lasts until we learn to adapt to our loss. When we cannot adapt to our loss, it becomes complicated grief.
Experts in the field of complicated grief have come up with a treatment plan for complicated grief. How could this be so? Those with complicated grief believe that there is no cure and they remain skeptical that anything could change how they feel.
Complicated grief impairs the quality of life that a person could be enjoying. But do they really want to? We remember not wanting to do anything, nothing mattered, and all we wanted to do was cocoon ourselves away, but now we don’t feel like that anymore. We have kept going forward, living on the belief that our daughter would have wanted us to do just that.
Grief from bereavement and depression share some characteristics. Both can involve sadness so intense that it causes us to withdraw from our normal activities. But there are other ways that they are different.
In grief, the sad painful feelings may come in waves and may often be triggered by a reminder of the beloved one. During these episodes of deep sadness there may be glimpses of positive memories of the deceased. For depression, the sad pain and the loss of interest can last for two weeks. When we grieve, we maintain our self-esteem, but in depression there are feelings of worthlessness and self-loathing. We don’t want anyone to feel this way.
There are many causes of depression and the loss of a loved one is one of them. Sometimes grief and depression go hand in hand.
Experts agree that one of the ways to combat depression, and also grief, is to regularly exercise. You have to live in your body, so you should take care of it. For us, we have our pets. They help us get out and do stuff and we can’t really ignore them, they are our family. For you it may be something different.
Thank you for bearing with us as we talk about these sometimes unpleasant matters. I hope that it helps us understand what it is that we are feeling. Please let us remember those who are grieving, there have been so many losses. Thank you for your prayers and for your continued support and kindness, they are not ever forgotten.