Everything You Need To Know About Grief - Are Grief and Depression The Same Thing?

Everything you ever wanted to know about grief and loss

Are grief and depression the same thing?

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Grief might seem like the easiest thing in the world to understand. Everyone has to go through it, right?

But, oh my goodness, how different it is for absolutely everyone.

Let's have a look at the types of grief and loss - it's not just losing a loved one!

  • Firstly of course, there is the death of a loved one. That could be anyone in you life, or even a pet or celebrity.

  • Secondly, there is the loss of something dear to you. That could be a job, a material object, or even a friendship.

Feeling the emotion of grief for the loss of any of these things, is perfectly normal.

How does grief feel?

Feelings of grief really are different for everyone. However, generally most people feel sad, and upset, a little lost and confused and overall vulnerable and unsteady.

These feelings may not start to show immediately after the loss occurs. It can take weeks or months for grief to come out, especially in very tragic circumstances where the mind and body may jump in to protect you from these extreme feelings.

There is an accepted grief process which follows the 5 stages of grief:

  • Denial

  • Anger

  • Bargaining

  • Depression

  • Acceptance

How long it takes to go through each stage depends entirely on the person and each stage is to be interpreted individually too.

In the denial stage, you can't believe the person is gone. There is a gap in the physical world where that person should be. It's an abstract and strange feeling, which makes no real sense.

This is usually followed quickly by anger. The unfairness of the situation comes in to play.

Bargaining usually follows where we makes deals with unseen forces to give us back our loved one in exchange for something - we know it's irrational, but we can also understand why we do it.

Then follows depression. I personally don't like to use this word, because a true depression is largely nothing to do with grief. A depression may follow after losing someone, but not necessarily in relation to these 5 stages. It may follow many weeks or months after acceptance.

Then comes acceptance. I don't really like the word acceptance either, and prefer to use the word resignation. We have no other choice than to realise that our loved one is not going to return, and we have to live our lives as best we can from then onwards.

What is the difference between grief and depression?

Over the years of helping people to overcome grief and move out of depression, I have noticed that the two are wholly interchangeable and often not related.

Yes, depression can arise due to the situation that losing someone can put someone in. It can leave a hole in life, where happiness once was. But depression can also occur for no reason whatsoever.

After working with several people who were diagnosed as bi-polar, there were times for those people where they experienced grief due to losing a parent, sibling, partner or friend, which didn't push them into a depressive state.

Yes, they felt the sadness, the anger, the bargaining and eventually the acceptance, but the sadness was temporary and faded with time.

What is depression?

Depression again is different for everyone, but in my experience depression is a total inability to clearly see day to day life.

Feelings range from overwhelment, sadness, anxiety, panic attacks, magical thinking (where you irrationally think situation X will happen if you don't do situation Y), fatigue, muscular aches and pains, inability to communicate, stomach issues, and anything in between.

It's not uncommon to completely lose the ability to get out of bed! Where the blanket or duvet feel like they are made of lead.

Depression can last only a few days, a few weeks or even months and years, but generally it is a temporary state and can be dealt with using appropriate therapies.

How to be happy?

Happiness can be a tricky thing to master. It takes practice and learning strategies on what to do, how to do them and how often, to bring long lasting happiness into your life.

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