Depression: Dealing with Loss & Mourning

Dealing with the loss of a loved one is not an easy thing. Mourning and grieving are natural processes a person will go through in order to cope with the reality of a major loss. Mourning the loss of a loved one is a very personal affair which may last many months, or even years.

Grieving is the outward expression of your loss. Your grief is likely to be expressed physically, emotionally, and psychologically. For instance, crying is a physical expression, while depression is a psychological expression.

Grief that is complicated by adjustment disorders (especially depressed and anxious mood or disturbed emotions and behavior), major depression and post-traumatic stress disorder are all issues which can arise as a result of grief or loss. Complicated grief can be identified by the length of time of the symptoms, the manner they affect normal function, or by the intensity of the symptoms (for example, intense suicidal thoughts or acts).

Complicated grief may also appear as a complete absence of grief and mourning, or the inability to experience normal grief reactions, delayed grief, conflicted grief, or chronic grief. Factors contributing to the chances one may experience complicated grief include the suddenness of the death, the gender of the person in mourning, and the relationship to the deceased.

Grief reactions that turn into major depression should be treated with both drug and psychological therapy. One who avoids any reminders of the person who died, who constantly thinks or dreams about the person who died, and who gets scared and panics easily at any reminders of the person who died may be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Depressive illness, not to be confused with situational depression caused by the loved one’s death, occurs in 17%-27% of survivors during the first year after a death. Symptoms of depression typically begin after one to two months of bereavement, last for several months after the loss, and are constant. The help of a mental-health professional is needed.

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