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How to tell if grief has become depression?

How to tell if grief has become depression?

How can you tell if grief has become depression and when to seek bereavement counselling?

Sadness is common after experiencing a loss, but you may need extra support to tell if grief has become depression.

There are many similarities between grief and depression, and it can be difficult to tell them apart. If you are struggling with grief or depression, help is available.

Common symptoms of grief include:

  • Feeling unable to get out of bed
  • Crying
  • Struggling to or not taking care of your hygiene or appearance
  • Lack of interest in activities that you previously enjoyed
  • Loss of energy or appetite
  • Comfort eating to ease your feelings of sadness
  • Feeling like you can’t carry on living without the person you’ve lost
  • Not feeling able to go to work or school
  • Unexplained anger and taking your feelings out on other people

This is by no means an exhaustive list.

Grief is a necessary process and doesn’t follow a timeline. Everyone experiences grief differently and must move through these feelings at their own pace. It’s common to see your friends and family dealing with loss in a different way to you – there’s no definitive right way, and comparing yourself to others can make the entire process more difficult.

You may not feel like engaging with those around you, but a strong support network can help you to manage the grieving process. Those who love you are perhaps best able to gauge how well you are coping and can offer kind words of support as well as practical help, like preparing a meal or doing the school run for you. People suffering from depression are more likely to disassociate themselves with friends and family, and this disconnection can impair their ability to heal.

Sometimes grief and depression can be distinguished by the way that they affect our daily lives. Grief comes in waves, sometimes feeling overwhelming but naturally transitioning into a more gentle way of feeling. As time goes on, a song or place or even a sound can trigger a memory that plunges us back into deeper grief, but this should be temporary. In contrast, depression is a cloud that hangs over us continually and may never seem to ease.

If you have previously suffered from depression, grief can be the catalyst that brings it back into the foreground. If you experience those familiar feelings creeping in, it may be time to take further action. In such cases, professional treatment such as therapy or medication can be helpful.

Serious symptoms that indicate that you may need additional help include:

  • Feelings of suicide or harming yourself
  • Crying regularly and for long periods of time
  • Extreme weight loss
  • Inability to perform your required daily duties

If you think that your grief has become depression it’s important to seek help as soon as possible. Contact your GP or counsellor for further advice, and they can recommend a course of treatment going forward.

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