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Grief and Depression After the Loss of a Loved One

While life is full of happy and gratifying moments, inevitably there will be times of loss. One of the worst experiences in life is losing a loved one, whether it be a friend, spouse or family member. This experience can create depression in an individual or worsen an existing depressed condition. It is known that while depression can be triggered by grief, grieving need not precede depression.

The Grieving Cycle

Grieving is normal, and will typically follow the “7 Stages of Grief, These stages are”:

  • Shock
  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining/Guilt
  • Depression/Sorrow
  • Acceptance
  • Engaging life

Depression can be a part of the grieving process, but it should not be ongoing or worsen over time. Prolonged intense sorrow or hopelessness can lead to isolation from others, a symptom of depression.

HOW TO TELL THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GRIEF AND DEPRESSION

While grief is experienced differently from one individual to another, and can resemble depression to a certain extent, there are noted indicators which can help distinguish grief from depression.

  • Duration: Grief will come and go, while depression is a constant or near constant feeling
  • Avoiding others: Those with depression will isolate themselves and possibly shun support. Those who are grieving may not feel like being around others in active social situations, but will still allow their loved ones to visit and remain close enough to support them.
  • Loss of Functioning Skills: Grief, after a few days, will abate enough to enable one to function at work or school, and may even provide a welcome distraction. Depression, conversely, can immobilize one to the point where everyday tasks like errands, work, or studying become impossible.

Complicated Grief

Significant and extended grief is sometimes referred to as “complicated grief”. Grief in itself is a natural process, but complicated grief often leads to long term grief and can bring on true, clinical depression.

Manifestations of Complicated Grief

  • Obsessing about the death of a loved one
  • Prolonged feelings of wanting to be near the deceased loved one
  • Having trouble accepting that the loved one has passed
  • Extended Bitterness over the loss
  • Feeling that life has no purpose
  • Grief escalates, instead of improving

Coping with Depression Caused by Grief

Recognizing the stages of grief and making sure the process follows the expected course is the first step to making sure that severe depression doesn’t take hold. Taking good care of yourself is important to help work through the grief and move past it, then continue on with your life.

How to be kind to yourself during the grieving process:

  • Make time to exercise, whether indoors or out, which can help elevate your mood by releasing endorphins.
  • Rest and make sure you get enough sleep at night; natural remedies including herbal teas, sleep sound machines or essential oils (like lavender) can help avoid sleepless nights.
  • Become active, take on a new hobby, or try something that you’ve always wanted to do, preferably something that will show positive, progressive results.
  • Seek out the companionship of friends and loved ones.
  • Consider joining a support group of others who are in a similar situation.
  • Try not to resort to drugs or alcohol in helping you through this time, as they are only a temporary fix and will only mask the symptoms and can actually contribute to depression.

SEEKING HELP

Grief and Depression | TMS Therapy in Dallas TX

If you cannot get past the feelings of grief and believe you are trapped in a cycle leading to depression, seek help from a qualified professional. Losing a loved one is life-altering, and sometimes it is necessary to reach out to others who can provide the best treatment.

It may be time to seek help if you:

  • Find even the smallest tasks to be impossible to complete
  • Have feelings of guilt or blame yourself for what happened
  • Lose hope and feel you have lost all meaning in your life
  • Isolate yourself from social situations
  • Feel that you should have died also
  • Can’t face life or the future without your loved one

Treatments for grief related depression may be as simple as talking to a therapist, but sometimes depression may require more than that. If you have found that traditional treatments have not helped you, TMS Neuro Solutions offers Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, an FDA approved treatment for depression covered by most insurance. Reach out to us today to learn more about how it may help you overcome depression after the death of a loved one.