Thursday, July 18, 2024

What Is The Difference Between Depression And Grief

Symptoms Impairment And Number Of Episodes

What is the Difference Between Depression and Grief

Mojtabai compared symptom profiles between participants with EB and single, brief MDE and found that those with EB were less likely to report increased sleep and more likely to report decreased sleep, than those with single, brief MDE . Psychomotor slowing, morbid preoccupations with worthlessness, and suicidal ideation were not included in the comparison of symptom profiles because they were used to define EB. The two groups did not differ in prevalence of depressed mood, concentration difficulties, anhedonia, fatigue, appetite problems, excessive guilt, or agitation.

Gilman et al. reported that those with EB had less psychosocial impairment than those with MDEs . Mojtabai did not assess differences in impairment because impairment was used in the definition of EB.

Gilman et al. assessed differences in number of lifetime depressive episodes and found that EB was associated with fewer episodes than MDE . Mojtabai did not assess such differences because the EB cases and the main bereavement-unrelated comparison group were limited to cases with single episodes.

The Difference Between Grief And Depression: How Are They Related

Erika Krull, MSEd, LMHP

Grief can hit hard, especially in the early moments of dealing with a loss. Your emotions can become so overwhelming that you might wonder if the sadness will ever go away. Depression can feel this way, too, and it helps to know the difference between grief and depression as you cope with your loss.

Grief can be uncomfortable, but in most cases you adjust to your loss and start feeling better over time. If you’re still struggling for months, your grief may have developed into depression. While this may prolong your grief for a while, depression treatment can help. Here, we’ll look at what a typical course of grief looks like, how it compares to depression, and some effective treatment options to consider.

Grief: A Complicated Beast

You may have heard of the “five stages of grief”, or the Kübler-Ross model, which holds that grief progresses in five neat stages. First, you’re supposed to be in denial numb, perhaps, not fully realizing your loved-one is truly gone, or your life really has changed permanently. Anger follows, it’s said, and then comes bargaining, in which you level with God, the universe, or whatever, to prevent a bad outcome or to reverse it. The fourth stage involves feelings of depression, after which you come to acceptance, and begin to find ways to be in the world without the person or thing you lost.

What separates normal grief from depression? That’s a question even many mental health professionals, research shows, struggle to answer. Like depressed people, grieving people may feel down, low, guilty, worthless, lonely, depressed, sad, anxious, unhappy, dissociated, angry, and numb.

In grieving people, this process changes over time and:

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Symptoms Of Complicated Grief And Pcbd

The primary difference between uncomplicated grief, complicated grief, and PCBD relates to the type symptoms experienced, how debilitating these symptoms, are and how long they have lasted.15 Complicated grief is characterized by intense distress that persists beyond 6 months following the loss, and prevents ones return to pre-loss levels of functioning in daily life, and emotional well-being.13

Additionally, one or more of the following symptoms might be present:5,6,13,14,15

  • Disbelief of, or lack of willingness to accept, the loss possibly accompanied by anger and bitterness
  • A deep longing or yearning for the loved one who has died
  • Experiencing life as unbearable since the loss
  • Profound loneliness
  • Avoidance of things, places, thoughts, or feelings that remind one of the deceased
  • Recurring intrusive thoughts and feelings about the deceased

PCBD might be diagnosed in situations where a bereaved individual continues to experience significant distress which is impacting their ability to function in daily life and does not appear to be improving by 12 months following the loss .

In addition to sharing the above listed symptoms indicated by complicated grief, PCBD is further characterized by:7

Whats The Difference Between Grief And Depression


Its important to remember these terms are just labels. There is no easy way of fitting complicated human feelings into neat categories. Grief can be an overwhelming experience and it affects every part of our lives, including our mental and physical health.

Clinical depression is the name for when deep sadness persists over weeks or months. These feelings are also after someone dies, and of course it is possible to be depressed while you are grieving, and vice versa.

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Grief Leads To Healing

Grief is a healthy, natural reaction to loss. Its been described as love up against its biggest challenge. Grief generally is a progression from shock and denial through anger and depression to bargaining and eventual acceptance. Although the stages and their order may vary, they form a framework that most of us work through to get to healing, the other side of loss.

Family History And Comorbid Disorders

Gilman et al. and Mojtabai investigated differences in family history and prior or concurrent mental disorders between depression groups. Gilman et al. reported that social phobia was less likely to precede EB cases than MDE . Similarly, lifetime avoidant , obsessive-compulsive , and schizoid personality disorders were less common among participants with EB compared to MDE. Gilman et al. did not find significant associations with prior panic disorder or generalized anxiety disorder, or paranoid, histrionic, or antisocial personality disorders. Mojtabai did not find differences in wave 1 rates of lifetime dysthymia or alcohol dependence. Neither Mojtabai nor Gilman et al. found differences by family history of depression and Gilman et al. did not find differences by family history of alcoholism.

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The Difference Between Depression And Grief

One of the things Ive noticed over the years in ourmedication-saturated society is the tendency to label any form of sadness asdepression. People then feel like they need an antidepressant or some otherintervention to take their sadness away.

A large percentage of the sadness people experience is often related to grief and loss. If we numb these feelings, it only prolongs our grief. So much of the mental health and the medical community is focused on symptom suppression rather than symptom resolution.

Furthermore, feelings such as grief have tremendous value.If we keep blocking or numbing them, we never experience the benefit they aredesigned to bring us. Throughout our life, we will encounter numerous losses ona variety of levels. In order to live a full life, we need to develop theability to grieve well.

Whenever we block our emotions, there is a price to be paid. Emotional defenses are not bad in and of themselves and are sometimes necessary. However, they are situation-specific. When we use them chronically, they create problems in our present life.

Emotions in essence are information and energy. They give us rapid feedback about what is happening around us and provide the internal resource to respond to that awareness. Grief informs us of a loss on some level. The more impactful the loss, the more intense the feeling of grief that arises.

When To Seek Medical Treatment

What is the difference between grief and depression?

Prevention is the ideal approach to depression. Be alert for stressors in your childs life and discuss them with your pediatrician. Counseling is often more effective early on when a child is grieving, before signs of depression arise. Counseling is generally aimed at helping the child find perspective as well as develop skills to cope with the current challenge, as well as to help equip them for difficult situations they may face in the future.

Counseling is often sufficient, but sometimes referral to a child psychiatrist and/or treatment with antidepressant medications may be necessary. These are generally intended to be used temporarily, in addition to counseling. In some severe cases, particularly if a child is experiencing thoughts of harming themselves or others, or actively attempting suicide, immediate referral to an inpatient mental health facility may be needed. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline may be reached at any time at 1-800-273-8255. Seek help immediately if you or a loved one is struggling with feelings of suicide.

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Grief Vs Depression: Understanding The Difference

Maloa Affuembey


It can be confusing at first glance to differentiate grief from depression since they share some common symptoms. However, while grief is a natural response to loss, which the majority of people are able to work through on their own, whereas depression is an illness. Those who experience both grief and depression, or a grief disorder, will usually benefit from professional assistance.

Healing and growth is possible with the support of an experienced therapist. Find the right person to work with on the Choosing Therapy directory. Review their profiles, watch their introductory videos, and then book an appointment with a therapist who is committed to your wellbeing.

Find A Way To Move Forward

Grief is difficult for everyone. But if you can’t move forward and feel like you’re sinking, your grief may have turned into depression. Antidepressants and counseling therapy may provide what you need to recover from depression. TMS is another effective treatment method to consider as well, and you can reach out toGreenbrook TMSfor more information. Sadness is a natural reaction to loss, but depression is a treatable condition that isn’t part of typical grief. Get the support you need to keep moving forward.

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What Typical Grief Looks Like

Atypical grief experienceincludes several phases of emotion, each one showing a different way of coping with loss. These phases can include denial, anger, barganing, sadness, and acceptance. It’s common to go through these phases in any order and often with phases occurring more than once.

Grief reactions come in waves with periods of adjustment in between. One week may seem calm, while the next could be full of emotional turmoil. Riding the ups and downs can be overwhelming at times, but these reactions are normal.

Your grief experience may follow some patterns, but your reaction to any particular loss is unique. Relationships, age, and life circumstances all play a part in how grief affects you and for how long. For most people, the first few weeks can be the hardest.

As the initial shock wears off, people start taking small steps back into their normal routines. Ups and downs are normal, but many people get engaged in their lives again after several months. Supportive relationships can help a grieving person find their new normal.

How They Are Different

Grief vs. Depression: Which Is It?

The main difference here is that most forms of grief tend to decrease over time, coming on in waves triggered by reminders of a loved one. So you may feel OK one day, such as when surrounded by friends and family, but then the next day youre right back where you started because it was your loved ones birthday, or perhaps you attended a wedding and it brought back memories of your own wedding to your spouse.

Grief is marked by intense sadness, irritability, anger, and difficulty accepting the fate of a loved one. The sting of these feelings tends to lessen a bit over time.

Depression is different in that it is persistent and pervasive. There may be thoughts of suicide, feelings of worthlessness, hallucinations, and prolonged difficulty participating in daily tasks.

Another main difference between the two is that grief is associated with a specific event or loss of a loved one, but with depression, there isnt always an identifiable loss. In grief, the focus is on the loss in depression, the focus is on self. In grief, self-esteem is usually not affected in depression, loathsome feelings toward oneself are generally present.

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Difference Between Grief And Depression

Grief vs Depression

Depression has become the second most common health problem worldwide, and it is very difficult to diagnose and treat since it shares most of the characteristics with simple emotional responses experienced by people. Simply saying depression is not the sadness nor is the sadness depression. Depression is a collection of symptoms and signs, which makes it a syndrome, and there is a specific criterion for the diagnosis of the disease. Grief is a reaction to loss of loved ones. So there are differences in grief and depression and this article would be helpful in differentiating these two terms.

What is Grief?

Grief is an emotional reaction to loss of loved ones and it is commonly manifested as sadness and crying. It is usually related to a circumstance of losing someone. There are several theories that have put forward to explain this response and they have described seven stages of grief. In the first stage, the person does not believe the truth of loss. The next stages include denial, bargaining, guilt, anger, depression and ultimately the acceptance of the truth allowing the person to return to his normal life. It has been found apart from the emotional response it comprises physical, cognitive, social and behavioral components.

There is no specific treatment modality to cope with grief, but counseling is reported to have beneficial effects.

What is Depression?

How To Tell The Difference Between Sadness Grief And Depression

We all know what its like to feel sad. Sadness is a standard human emotion. It looks different for different people and in different situations, but we all experience it regularly, maybe some of us more vividly than others.

Robin Dee Post, Ph.D., a recently retired clinical psychologist with over 30 years of experience in private practice, tells SELF that sadness is actually a desirable and necessary emotion. Its an emotion we sometimes think about negatively and it actually is not, its a very adaptive feeling. Being sad allows us to deal with painful experiences and loss. It can be cathartic and relieve tension. It also aids in empathy for ourselves and what were going through, but its also an emotion that can help us access other peoples pain and suffering, Post explains.

Sadness is also one feature of depressiontheyre closely tied, but not exactly the same. Being sad is normal and healthy and will pass depression has a negative impact on your life and needs to be addressed to get you back to a happy, healthy, functional place again.

Mood disruption for two weeks or longer, is one diagnostic criteria for depression, Post says. The key is whether or not that sadness is paired with other factors of depressionloss of energy, trouble concentrating or making decisions, difficulty sleeping, disruption in eating patterns, feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness or thoughts of self harm.

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Signs & Symptoms Of Depression

Given that clinical depression has been identified among 28-34% of people who are grieving loss of a loved one,5,13 it is imperative that it be identified and treated as soon as possible to address this painful and potentially disabling illness.

One who is grieving, should be professionally assessed for depression if they have been experiencing a pervasive depressed mood or a loss of interest or enjoyment in things that used to provide pleasure for a period of 2 weeks or longer.

  • Significant changes in weight or sleep
  • Fatigue or low energy
  • Difficulties with concentration, decision-making, or thinking
  • Thoughts of death and/or suicide
  • Preoccupation with the loss
  • Poor appetite

Grief & Loss Support Groups

Circles offers support groups that provide a safe place to share your experiences and learn from others going through similar experiences. Circles offers groups focused on the profound impact of grief and loss. Groups meet weekly by video and are led by expert facilitators. Your group can connect via chat anytime using the Circles app. Join a Circles group for only $20 per week. Learn More

Choosing Therapy partners with leading mental health & wellness companies and is compensated for referrals by the company mentioned above.

What Distinguishes Prolonged Grief Disorder From Depression

Grief and bereavement

Pål Kristensen specialist in psychology and dr. philos. He has contributed to the idea, literature review, interpretation of data and revision of the manuscript.

The author has completed the ICMJE form and declares no conflicts of interest.

Kari Dyregrov professor dr. philos. She has contributed to the interpretation of data, preparation/revision of the manuscript and has approved the submitted manuscript version.

The author has completed the ICMJE form and declares no conflicts of interest.

Center for Crisis Psychology, Bergen, Norway

Faculty of Health and Social Sciences

Bergen University College, Norway

Atle Dyregrov specialist in psychology and professor dr. philos. He has contributed to the interpretation of the data, preparation/revision of the manuscript and has approved the submitted manuscript version.

The author has completed the ICMJE form and declares no conflicts of interest.

Center for Crisis Psychology, Bergen, Norway

Prolonged grief disorder, which is proposed as a new diagnosis in ICD-11, and depression share some similarities but also several key differences. In order to provide the correct help and treatment, it is important for doctors to be able to ascertain whether a person is struggling with prolonged grief or has become depressed following the loss of a loved one

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Is It Grief Or Depression How To Tell The Difference

Grief is a common, expected experience as a child or teenager processes difficult life circumstances. Depression, however, is a mood disorder that can be prolonged and serious. Because depression left untreated can be harmful and lead to suicidal or other risky behaviors, recognizing the difference between the two is vital.

Is It Grief Or Depression

Its important to find out whether youre suffering from grief after a loss or if youve fallen into depression. Maybe youve suffered from depression most of your life and a recent loss has made it much worse. Or maybe a recent loss has you feeling as though you may have depression. Your family and loved ones could be concerned about how youre dealing with these issues.

Take a few minutes and read through the differences and then apply them to your personal situation. If youre indeed suffering depression, professional help may be the best solution.


Learning Mind is a blog created by Anna LeMind, B.A., with the purpose to give you food for thought and solutions for understanding yourself and living a more meaningful life. Learning Mind has over 50,000 email subscribers and more than 1,5 million followers on social media.

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