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Depression Health Center

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Grief and Depression

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When you lose someone or something dear to you, it's natural to feel pain and grief. The grief process is normal, and most people go through it. But when grief takes over your life and you begin to feel hopeless, helpless, and worthless, then it's time to talk to your doctor about telling the difference between normal grief and depression.

What Is Grief?

Grief is a natural response to death or loss. The grieving process is an opportunity to appropriately mourn a loss and then heal. The process is helped when you acknowledge grief, find support, and allow time for grief to work.

Each year, between 5% and 9% of the population loses a close family member. But that's not the only kind of loss that can cause grief. People can feel loss when:

  • They become separated from a loved one
  • They lose a job, position, or income
  • A pet dies or runs away
  • Kids leave home
  • They have a major change in life such as getting a divorce, moving, or retiring

While we all feel grief and loss, and each of us is unique in the ways we cope with our feelings.

Some people have healthy coping skills. They're able to feel grief without losing sight of their daily responsibilities.

Other people don't have the coping skills or support they need. That hinders the grieving process.

How Do We React to Grief and Loss?

There are specific stages of grief. They reflect common reactions people have as they try to make sense of a loss. An important part of the healing process is feeling and accepting the emotions that come as a result of the loss.

People go through common stages of grief:

Denial, numbness, and shock: Numbness is a normal reaction to a death or loss and should never be confused with "not caring." This stage of grief helps protect us from experiencing the intensity of the loss. It can be useful when we have to take some action, such as planning a funeral, notifying relatives, or reviewing important papers. As we move through the experience and slowly acknowledges its impact, the initial denial and disbelief fades.

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