Reactive depression & complicated grief... Signs of true clinical depression
As enormously disturbing and challenging the loss of a loved one is, the fact is that most people do not need professional help to find their way through the mourning process and back to life.
Normal grief is not a psychological disorder, and requires no "treatment" or medication. It heals on its own. You will experience crying spells, profound sadness, and a "depressed" mood, all of which mimic major depression.
However, these are all normal and healthy responses to bereavement, not signs of illness. And they serve an adaptive purpose. As Dennis Klass notes in his book "The Culture of Grief", healthy grief "lines us up with reality" and helps us come to terms with who we are, apart from our lost loved one.
So periods of "depression" are to be expected during the grieving journey. A true clinical depression, however, lasts for months without change. Normal grief is fluid, always changing, and "all over the map". You may feel up, then down, from moment to moment.
grief is marked by intensity and constant change, with a gradual
progression towards improvement. Clinical depression is dull and
constant and pervasive. It is marked by a profound lack of self esteem,
and does not improve over time.
True clinical depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain which is usually treated with medication, and sometimes psychotherapy. Grief can sometimes lead to true depression. About 20% of bereaved people will go on to develop major reactive depression.
So it's important to know the difference between grief and depression. Remember: depression is medically treated; grief is not.
These are the warning signs that professional help should be sought:
Prolonged periods of depressive symptoms (lasts for months):
Self destructive behavior:
Unable to function:
Stuck in grief:
How to find a mental health professional to work with? Find out here: PROFESSIONAL COUNSELING.