Bereavement is not a psychological disorder
Grief and depression may both present similarly, but they are different in important ways
Symptoms of grief can make you feel like you've lost your mind and can have you running to the doctor for help. We wanted to share how grief can be mistaken for depression, so you can ensure you get the right treatment.
It’s easy to see how grief can get misdiagnosed as depression when you compare symptoms, for example:
Loss of concentration
Anger, irritability, or frustration
No interest in activities you once enjoyed
Trouble sleeping, or sleeping too much
Feeling isolated and removing yourself from social activities
Undereating, overeating or craving unhealthy foods
Drinking too much
Anxiety, excessive worry, or guilt
Missing days or underperforming at work or school
Headache, tummy ache or muscle pain
Loss of self-confidence/worth
Although grief and depression may both present similarly, they are different in important ways.
Depression may not have a direct cause. Although it can be triggered by a situation, it’s more of a chemical response in the brain. When levels of neurotransmitters (chemicals that help messages travel around the brain), and norepinephrine and serotonin (connected to mood) decrease, depression may occur. Your mood may remain consistently low for two weeks or more.
Grief is a direct response to loss: the death of a loved one, loss of normal, loss of hopes, dreams and expectations, and more. With grief, you may experience painful feelings in waves, perhaps mixed with good memories of the person who has died. While you are grieving, you tend to maintain your feelings of self-worth.
NICE (National Institute for Care Excellence) recently published guidance about talking therapies as treatment for mild depression, including grief. This is where many of our grief specialists can help through person-centred approaches, working together to help people adapt to the losses in their lives.
Carol Wright is an author, Qualified Health Coach and Advanced Grief Recovery Specialist who specialises in helping people with health loss, middle-aged women caring for parents, parental loss and emotional eating. Carol is based in Northamptonshire and available for Grief Recovery sessions online via Zoom, and face-to-face. Find out more about Carol here.