Blog: Perspective on Trauma

Coping with Grief and Loss: When sadness becomes depression.

by LaDonna Remy, MSW,LICSW on June 14, 2017 No comments

You might feel: It’s too big, it’s too much, and it just wont stop. There is one incredible heartache after another and there is nothing, and there is no one, that can change it. Least of all me. I’m stuck in an endless cycle of inconsolable pain. One long and endless day of just existing.

Perspective: Sadness is a normal reaction to grief. Grief and depression differ but can overlap and while each have specific symptoms the experiences are as individual as the person who is impacted by them. The sadness associated with loss is normal and there is no true time line on grieving. It is important to recognize that grief is a normative and necessary process, that has many layers, and includes many of the same indicators as depression. However they are not the same and recognition of this is paramount in regaining the on-going sense of hope that genuine depression takes from you.

Grief is not only attached to death, it is attached to loss that profoundly changes the way of life you once knew. A loss that means you have to go on living without someone, something, or some experience of yourself that was vitally important to you. No one else can or should tell you what this is for you. It is important that you take the time to experience the many (and often complicated) feelings you will have during this process. It is additionally important that you have support as you work to navigate these complex emotions and that this support takes on forms that are genuinely helpful to you. This might include, connection with family, friends, a counselor or spiritual leader, and engagement in practices that lessen your pain and aide in strengthening your sense of hope and personal strength.

The sadness associated with grief is expected and normal. Expressions of grief may include emotional, physical, and spiritual feelings and behaviors. These may manifest as, sadness, crying, difficulty sleeping, fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss, pain in your body, yearning for what once was, temporary questions regarding your faith, and many others. It is very common to experience periods of great pain and periods of seeming calmness. These tend to come and go and are genuinely part of the grieving process.

Feelings of sadness and responses to loss that cross the invisible barrier to depression include, the sense of hopelessness described in the introductory paragraph of this writing. These include symptoms that persist and remain consistent day to day. There are not those seeming periods of reprieve that accompany grief and readjustment to life after a significant loss. Symptomatology may include (along with the sadness and sense of hopelessness or emptiness previously described), loss of interest or pleasure in almost all activities throughout most of your everyday experience, significant weight gain or loss (changes equaling 5% of your body weight within a months time), fatigue, insomnia or hyper-insomnia, loss in ability to concentrate, to take decisive action, feelings of worthlessness or on-going guilty feelings, psychomotor agitation or lethargy, recurrent thoughts of death or dying, suicidal thoughts, gestures, actions, or plans.

It is important to note, that these symptoms are not better accounted for by existing medical, emotional, adjustment to loss, or use of substance issues and cause clinically significant impairment in your
day to day functioning. If you are experiencing the symptoms, as described above, it is vitally important that you access informed support for yourself. Engaging in work with an informed grief and loss counselor will be, and is, important. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, engaging in gestures, actions, or have a specific plan for dying it is paramount that you access support. The support of informed treatment (therapy) is important to your longterm well being and is confidential and specific to you and your experience.

You deserve to feel a peace in your own life. Reaction to loss is normal and expected and can cross the barrier from normative sadness (and the many changes associated with grief) to genuine depression. There are many reasons why this might occur which include genetic make-up, accumulative experiences, access to on-going support, and many other individual factors. It is highly important that you make you a priority or allow someone else to until you can, by reaching out for support.

If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, or again, have engaged in actions or planning please access support. This may come in the form of a family member, friend, clergy, or counseling. If you don’t know where to start calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a good beginning. You may reach this service at (800) 273-8255. It is confidential and informed in helping you decipher what is right for you along with connecting you to resources in your local area. If you are not ready to be connected to resources, but just need to talk or learn more, this can also be gained through this resource.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: (800) 273-8255.

Article image from found at pinterest.com 

LaDonna Remy, MSW,LICSWCoping with Grief and Loss: When sadness becomes depression.

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