Edmonds, WA (Apr 24, 2012) – Grief and clinical depression can be difficult to tell apart, even for a professional. For a person who has experienced a major life loss such as a loved one’s death, these two emotionally painful conditions can exist intertwined, according to bestselling author Dr. Gregory Jantz, founder of The Center • A Place of HOPE.
But despite the similarities, by no means do all grieving people suffer from depression, and the need to distinguish the two is currently a source of controversy in the mental health community.
Next spring, when the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM-5, is published by the American Psychiatric Association, it will likely allow for a diagnosis of major depressive disorder (MDD) when a person is as little as two weeks into the grieving process.
Some mental health professionals say DSM-5 will too easily allow grief to be mislabeled as depression, while others question the emphasis that the DSM puts on categorizing and labeling human suffering in the first place.
Depression and grief both have profound sadness at their root, and many symptoms of depression mirror the outward signs of grief. For instance, serious depression and intense grief can both cause loss of appetite, irritability and difficulty sleeping.
“People shouldn’t be overly alarmed when a significant life loss makes them feel sad and affects their functioning for a time,” says Dr. Jantz, who operates The Center • A Place of HOPE in Edmonds, WA.
In the wake of a personal tragedy such as a death or divorce, people usually come to terms with the changes in their lives and eventually resume day-to-day activities and a generally positive outlook. When grief is complicated by depression, however, a person may feel that there is no hope for improvement or any prospect of a return to a “normal” life.
More information on depression and the whole-person approach to depression treatment can be found at aplaceofhope.com.