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Finding the Right Treatment Path for Complicated Grief versus Depression

Grief comes in all sizes, shapes, and colors. There is no one way to grieve. There is no one right way to look at what happens in life as trauma, pain, or a loss. People grieve differently, but it is not always diagnosable as a condition. To get the right treatment, there must be a mental health professional who is well-versed in grief and trauma. Learn what distinguishes grief and depression, then find some tips to help heal. 

How Grief Appears

Grief is a normal and healthy part of coping with loss. This could be a broken relationship, death, or loss of a job. Emotional suffering that happens is painful, but a natural part of life. Some other things a person may experience while grieving may not seem like grief but generally resemble a grief process:

  • Emptiness
  • Isolation
  • Crying
  • Up and down emotions (rollercoaster)
  • Guilt and shame
  • Sadness
  • Hopelessness
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Weight changes

People have experiences that are unique to the next person. They are not going to be angry or cry. The time it takes for feelings and symptoms to lessen varies. Difficult feelings are less intense over time and a person should function normally, even while still grieving. 

When Grief is Complicated

Complications of grief do not mean that something has gone awry. It simply means feelings have not gone away that are lingering, and even intensifies as months go by. This could magnify the struggle. This means a complicated grief loss has occurred, which results in a diagnosable mental health condition characterized by extended grief, intense negative emotions, and the inability to adjust to life again. A year or longer after a loss has occurred is usually when it happens. Depression can arise out of this, which may fit the following symptoms:

  • A depressed mood
  • Changes in appetite
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Fatigue
  • Thinking about life or death questions

To be diagnosed with depression, five or more symptoms must be present. A person must experience these symptoms persistently, most of the day, every day for two weeks or longer. The signs and symptoms can last longer or not as long as some people think they should, but duration and intensity are important to note. Anything lasting longer than a year is significant in terms of complicated grief. Evaluation and support are essential to make sure a person can come through complicated grief feeling healthy and moving forward from their grief. 

Grief is difficult enough without becoming too complicated. The challenge for people with grief and loss is learning to walk through it with support. They might need additional help if it is old grief trapped in the body. It can trigger mental health issues and other things which signify the need for additional support.  For more information on sober living programs for men and women as well as recovery programs, call 855-483-7800.