A recent study by Dr. Michael First of Columbia University, Jerome Wakefield of New York University and Allan Horwits of Rutgers University, states, that 25% of patients are improperly diagnosed as depressed, when in actuality, they are suffering from stressful events. Stressful events in one’s life might include divorce, loss of employment, loss of a home, or the death of a loved one.
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to understand if you are suffering grief or depression. These partial lists below demonstrate how one might find it difficult to decipher between these two conditions.
signs and symptoms of grief signs and symptoms of depression
Inability to focus or concentrate on tasks. Inability to focus or concentrate on tasks.
Difficulty with sleep. (Too much, too little, both.) Difficulty with sleep. (Too much, too little, both.)
Changes in appetite. (Too much, too little, both.) Changes in appetite. (Too much, too little, both.)
Decreased energy level. Decreased energy level.
As you can see, the two lists are identical.
The discovery that 25 % of patients are misdiagnosed as depressed creates a dilemma of recognizing the differences between grief and depression.
Greif Brief 3
GRIEF OR DEPRESSION
Grief and depression are different conditions.
With grief, the world looks poor and empty.
With depression, the person feels poor and empty.
Although depression may exist during bereavement, it seems to be a transient state.
If depression debilitates the bereaved for an extended period, professional practitioners might be considered.
If one has suffered an extended period of grief and notices that one’s coping skills are not improving; or if one has thoughts of harming oneself, one might consider professional intervention.
(Tracy Rene’e Lee, Mourning Light 1, 2014)
The issue with an improper diagnosis of depression is that one’s physician might prescribe antidepressants when they are not warranted. "If someone has a normal grief reaction, you wouldn't give that person an antidepressant; you would favor counseling." (Dr. Michael First of Columbia University) Counseling is preferred as it does not involve strong medications that may carry severe or very bothersome side effects. Two of the most troublesome side effect of antidepressants are excessive weight gain and loss of sexual performance in both men and women. "Sexual side effects are one of the long-term side effects that many people cannot tolerate." (Madhukar Trivedi, MD, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center)
When a survivor experiences grief, life is confusing and difficult to bear. The phases of grief recovery are unique to one’s life’s experiences. If you are concerned that you may be suffering depression after loss, it might be a good idea to consult with a certified grief counselor. Grief counselors are educated in methods that may help you recover without the risk of strong prescription medications. Some survivors find positive results in partnering with a “Grief Buddy.” Grief Buddy’s are friends and family who have previously suffered loss and are willing to help you with your recovery. They are open to listening to your story, suggesting recovery methods and strategies they found helpful and spending time with you until you are able to reacclimate yourself socially.
I hope that if you are suffering grief and you are concerned that you have entered into the debilitating realm of depression, that you will seek immediate professional assistance. Whether you decide to consult with your MD, a grief counselor, or a mental health practitioner is your choice. My prayers, however, are for your health and recovery.
My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am the owner and Managing Funeral Director at Queen City Funeral Home in Queen City Texas. I am an author, syndicated columnist, and co-founder of Heaven Sent, Corp. I write books and weekly bereavement articles related to understanding and coping with grief. I am the American Funeral Director of the Year Runner-Up and recipient of the BBB’s Integrity Award. I deliver powerful messages and motivate audiences toward positive recovery. It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.
For additional encouragement, read other articles or watch video “Grief Briefs,” please go to my website at www.MourningCoffee.com.