GRIEF OR DEPRESSION, which is it?


Over the past year and a half, many of us have experienced losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve lost loved ones, jobs, the ability to visit elderly family members, and made major changes to our everyday routines. We’ve spent less time with friends and stopped many of our social hobbies and pastimes. When we experience significant losses, it is common to go through a period of grief.


Normal grief can involve feelings like sadness, tearfulness, and anger. It can cause trouble sleeping, either too little or too much. It is common to experience changes in one’s appetite, along with weight gain or loss. In grief, happy memories and loving feelings co-exist with profound feelings of sadness and loss. Grief tends to decrease over time as we readjust to our new reality.


Some people experience a more significant and longer-lasting level of grief. This is known as complicated grief. Complicated grief may share many of the same symptoms of clinical depression, including a loss of interest in living, and suicidal thoughts. Complicated grief can bring on anxiety, worry, guilt and physical pain, such as body aches. People often turn to alcohol or drugs to relieve the emotional and physical pain of complicated grief, and can feel isolated and alone.


It is important to talk to your primary care doctor or a counselor if your grief is lasting longer and becoming more severe over time. This is an indication of complicated grief, and help is available.


Clinical depression, on the other hand, can occur with or without a significant loss. It has a variety of causes: exposure to violence or trauma, certain medications, genetic inheritance, drug or alcohol abuse, seasonal changes in access to light, or hormonal changes due to childbirth. Depression involves self-loathing and a loss of self-esteem, and lasts consistently for two weeks or longer. People living with depression experience difficulty functioning at work, school, or in daily activities.


Approximately one in five Americans experience clinical depression in any given year. Left untreated, depression can get worse over time, and it can be life-threatening. Depression is treatable, responding best to a combination of counseling and medication.


If you or someone you love is experiencing complicated grief or depression, help is available. Call Southeast Health Group today at 1-800-511-5446. Crisis counselors are waiting to take your call.


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