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Difference Between Grief & Depression

When you lose a loved one, there are a series of emotions that can go through your head and it may seem like those negative feelings may last forever. For many, their season of grief ends and they can return to normal life in time. For others that grief takes root and stays a little while longer and for others still they have even more issues healing from the trauma of loss.

In this post, we're going to use some terminology that gets used incorrectly at times. Let's take a minute here to define those terms as we mean them.

Grief is the feeling of loss that covers a wide variety of emotions that immediately follows the loss of a loved one.

Chronic grief is a season of grief that continues on longer than is typically accepted.

Depression and depressive periods are periods of time were negative emotions begin to influence day to day life in unfavorable ways.

Clinical depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain that leads to symptoms that can look a lot like normal grieving but extend for far longer than is normally acceptable. Clinical depression is a medical condition that can only be truly diagnosed by a trained therapist and is a condition that can be treated with therapy and prescription medication.

Often times, grief looks like depression from the outside looking in. The two conditions do share many similarities like sadness, lack of interest in things that the person would normally enjoy and feeling distant and withdrawn from others. The key differences between these conditions and states of mind are mostly time and severity. Most grieve for up to a year: some do not need that much time, however. Anything past a year is often considered to be a depressive period or episode.

Severity is also an indicator of difference.If at any point in time the symptoms go beyond just sadness and being withdrawn to thoughts or acts of self-harm, threats of violence or extreme mood swings are likely indications of a more serious issue. As stated prior, only a trained medical professional can properly diagnose depression so it is encouraged that the person is seen by psychologist or psychiatrist.

Grief is not the same as depression and clinical depression is not grief. Can the loss of a loved exacerbate the symptoms of depression: yes. Can depression make grieving more severe: yes. But the two are not the same and knowing the difference can help you and those around you better cope and move forward.

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