Did you know there’s a difference between grief and depression? Well, it can be complicated to explain.

In simple terms, grief can eventually go away, while depression can last for a lifetime. But that’s not all you need to know. There are other facets of these conditions that separate one from the other.

Learning the difference between grief and depression

The reason it’s sometimes hard to tell the difference between when someone is grieving and when they have clinical depression is because the symptoms often overlap. You may see someone with clinical depression in a state of grief after losing a loved one or you may see someone grieving fall victim to depression over time.

This is the major aspect that makes differentiating the two most difficult. However, discovering these differences is important in order to seek professional help when needed.

Dealing with loss

The feelings of grief come about because of the loss or death of a loved one. These feelings can last for a long time, and then after they seem to be gone, they can come back in waves. There can be triggers that bring grief back for a period of time. These triggers may be birthdays, anniversaries or special things you used to do with your loved one or friend who has passed.

Some people even think breakups in relationships can feel a lot like grieving a loved one. The good news is that eventually, grief gets better and has fewer effects. But, I’m not saying it goes away.

The similarities between the two

There are some things that are basically the same between grief and depression. These symptoms come and go making it extremely hard at times to tell the difference between the two. Both conditions exhibit irritability, insomnia, and not being able to move on from whatever happened, whether it was traumatic or just a loss.

Sometimes both grief and depression can lead to more serious issues like weight loss or even attempted suicide. Those suffering from depression or grief may also get angry at their situation, lashing out. While these are similar symptoms, there are characteristics that separate these conditions from each other.

Understanding the difference between grief and depression

If you can pay close attention to the differences between depression and grief, you can offer help when needed. Sometimes professional help will be the answer. Here are some of the most marked differences between the two.

1. Unlike grief, depression doesn’t always have a clear reason

It can even have many reasons which have clustered together creating a mess of desperation and hopelessness.

2. Grief is not permanent

Even when something triggers an old pain, it will also fade in time. While you may never forget the person or place, you will heal and learn to deal with the loss.

3. Suicidal thoughts

When you grieve, you may want to join the person you lost, which is something many people think. The good news about this is that you change your mind as you begin to heal.

With depression, suicidal thoughts never go away so easily. While you may not always think about harming yourself, the thoughts tend to return over and over, and it’s something that should be talked about with a professional.

4. Guilt and anger

Depression leaves us with feelings of guilt that have nothing to do with losing a loved one or likewise, although we may have lost a loved one, which exacerbates the depression. Sometimes depression just happens and the guilt and regret come from seemingly nowhere.

Those who’ve suffered from grief will be angry. They will have a hard time accepting that someone is gone or something has ended. This anger may even make them bitter and hard to be around for a while. Fortunately, much of this passes for most people.

5. Acceptance

It may be difficult to accept the loss of a loved one when you’re going through grief. For weeks or months on end, you may still be in the habit of attempting to call them or going by for a visit. Eventually, the fact that they are gone will sink in.

Depression, on the other hand, doesn’t fade so easily, and it can cause hallucinations and delusions. Sometimes depression can even cause dissociation, which is where you may feel like you are in another world. Dissociation is such a strange feeling that it’s hard to explain. It’s almost as if you are numb.

6. Feelings of worthlessness

People who suffer from depression will be obsessed with the feeling that they are worthless. This is why so many people with this illness fail to take care of themselves or seek help for themselves. It’s tragic to witness the pattern of depression.

Is it grief or depression?

It’s important to find out whether you’re suffering from grief after a loss or if you’ve fallen into depression. Maybe you’ve suffered from depression most of your life and a recent loss has made it much worse. Or maybe a recent loss has you feeling as though you may have depression. Your family and loved ones could be concerned about how you’re dealing with these issues.

Take a few minutes and read through the differences and then apply them to your personal situation. If you’re indeed suffering depression, professional help may be the best solution.

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