That Thursday started like any other. I sat down at my computer to clean out emails and plan the upcoming day; then the call came. My mother-in-law had passed away unexpectedly in the night and the world was suddenly turned upside down. As a long time sufferer of clinical depression, grief depression adds an entirely different layer of depression symptoms. I suddenly noticed symptoms of clinical depression that were previously muted by my natural treatment choices. Would grief depression cause a rebound of clinical depression symptoms?
What is Grief Depression?
Grief depression is a direct reaction to the death of a friend, family member or loved one. According to WebMD, up to nine percent of the world’s population suffers this type of loss each year. Of those nine percent, only a few are currently fighting clinical depression. Grief depression symptoms mimic those of clinical depression, in some cases, so understanding the difference between the two and recognizing a bout of severe clinical depression is important to personal safety and health.
The Stages of Grief and Clinical Depression
The first two stages of grief are denial and bargaining. Denial is that feeling that sets in just minutes or hours after finding out about the death. My mind switched off, literally. I instantly had difficulty speaking complete sentences and paced the room back and forth trying to mentally grasp the idea that someone in my life just 24 hours before was suddenly gone for good. I checked her Facebook page to see if she had updated that morning and felt the sudden urge to call or text her for a simple “I love you” or “How are you doing this morning?”
Soon, those feelings of denial moved into the bargaining stages. She had sent a message to my Facebook page just days before telling my how much she loved me. I never responded to that message because I was just too busy, but what if I had sent a message in return. Would she have known I loved her just as much as she loved me and held on just one more day? Bargaining quickly moved into depression and that is where the patient with clinical depression, like me, does not want to wallow.
Separating Grief Depression and Clinical Depression
A patient of clinical depression is versed in the feelings of sadness that come with grief depression, but unlike a person without clinical depression, they may not be able to discern the feelings to understand what symptoms are associated with normal grief depression and what symptoms are associated with clinical depression. The line between the two may be blurred, but movement into the fourth and fifth stages of grief are the turning point in healing after the death of a loved one and suffering from prolonged symptoms of depression.
Noticing Abnormal Grief Depression
The depression stage of grief can last longer than the previous stages of grief. If grief depression lasts more than two months, according to CarePages, seeking medical help for clinical or prolonged depression may be required. Prolonged grief depression can develop into post-traumatic stress disorder, characterized by avoidance of the truth and constant replaying of the death in the mind. Group therapy sessions, psychotherapy and medications can help ease the symptoms until you are ready to move into the final two stages of grief; anger and acceptance.
The death of a loved one is never a happy event, but patients with clinical depression need to be especially careful when moving through the stages of grief. Grief depression mirrors many of the symptoms of clinical depression, but they may compound feelings of sadness and worthlessness to the point where medical help is needed. In my case, I managed to separate the two and focus on my personal healing journey. I recognized the stages of grief and took the feelings of grief depression as part of healing instead of stacking them on top of my typical depressive symptoms. Not everyone can separate the two. There is nothing wrong with seeking medical help for grief depression, prolonged grief or post-traumatic symptoms as help leads to healing.
“Grief & Depression Coping With Denial, Loss, Anger and More.” WebMD – Better Information. Better Health. Web. 31 May 2011.
Foster, MA, Linda. “Help for Grief and Severe Depression.” CarePages. Ed. Cynthia Haines, MD. Web. 31 May 2011.
“Grief Depression: Coping With The Stages Of Grief | Dr Keith Manning.com.” Dr Keith Manning – The Grief Doctor. Web. 31 May 2011.
More from Summer Cavalier-Banks
How to Communicate With Your Doctor
Could Estrogen Help Fight Post-Partum Depression?
An Emotional Acrobat: My Journey With Bipolar Disorder