Depression Versus Complicated Grief: An Analysis

The loss of a family member or any loved one can be a tragic experience. With that, many emotions combine within an individual which usually results in emotional turmoil. Some people may call it grief while others might refer to it as depression.

There is always an interchange between these two concepts. However, it is crucial to know the difference between depression and complicated grief so that the person can get the appropriate clinical treatment and support needed for their condition.

Complicated Grief

Complicated grief (CG), also known as persistent complex bereavement disorder, is stronger and more severe than normal grief. Anyone can feel CG as a natural response to the loss of a loved one. However, many people with this condition undergo the stages of grieving for months—even years.


CG does not correlate with any biological causes. But there is an association with the environment, genetic composition, personality, and body chemistry of a person. Although grieving is a normal process, experiencing CG for a long time can cause several severe symptoms which may worsen the quality of life of an individual. Some of these symptoms include the following:

  • Inability to have fun and smile
  • Loss of motivation or purpose to do anything
  • Feeling a wide range of emotions
  • Heightened reminiscing of the lost loved one
  • Powerful pain when thinking about the loss
  • Loss of trust in the people around you
  • Neglect of proper hygiene


Depression, on the other hand, is a type of clinical condition which can be a source of death if untreated. Experiencing this might not have a particular source. Also, some symptoms might be present in some days and absent in other days.


A professional will diagnose a person with depression if he or she shows a combination of symptoms, with each one of them present almost every day. The following symptoms are the criteria for diagnosis:

  • Constant feeling of irritability
  • Significant weight loss because of loss in appetite
  • Sleeping too much or sleeping too little
  • A sense of guilt and worthlessness
  • Difficulty in concentrating
  • Constant thoughts of suicide and death
  • Sluggish movements

What Sets Them Apart

There is a huge overlap between depression and complicated grief. Several symptoms in CG are the same with those of depression. Some examples of these include intense sadness, constant irritability, and excessive focus on the feeling of sadness.

The major difference between these two is that in CG, the individual can point out what prompted the grief. In most cases, this stems from the loss of a loved one. In depression, however, a person might not be able to point out what caused his or her sadness. They might not even be able to determine the exact time when they felt these waves of gloom.

Those with depression have more thoughts of committing suicide. Although the same twisted ideas usually visit people with CG, it will not occur as often as compared to those experiencing depression. Also, people with depression think of dying as a way to escape the pain and sadness they feel while those with CG usually have thoughts of death since they want to reunite with their deceased loved one.

Lastly, CG results in a wide range of complicated emotions. However, those with depression usually feel stuck and have the same persisting feelings.

Proper Treatment

Professionals usually recommend therapy, specifically complicated grief therapy (CGT), to treat CG. CGT requires the individual to tell stories of his or her loved one’s death repeatedly for the emotions to cope with reality and pain. This treatment also guides an individual on how to rebuild his or her relationships and reach his or her goals.

Despite the availability of therapies, most people who have experienced CG do not recommend seeking treatment instantly. Rather, these bereaved people should try to look first for individual and group supports to help him or her cope with their complicated grief. If this strategy does not pan out in a month or two, that is the time one should ask the help of a professional.


On the other hand, those with depression should undergo either psychotherapy or medication—even both. It is even more helpful to take antidepressants should the patient meet the necessary diagnostic criteria and the assigned doctor prescribe it. Antidepressants can relieve the hormone imbalances in the brain which might be contributing to the depression.

Distinguishing whether an individual is experiencing complicated grief or depression is crucial. It is critical to know for sure which kind of treatment strategy one should engage in. Seeking the help of a professional is best so that a licensed expert can properly diagnose the mental health status of an individual. There might be further complications if the diagnosis is wrong.

2016 Dallas Online Therapy Summit Talks About The Importance Of Grieving



All of us experience loss once or more in our lives, and the mental health society knows the importance of overcoming grief to our mental wellness. The 2016 Dallas Online Therapy Summit covers the issue about the harmful effects of losing a loved one to a person, how we can overcome it, and help someone to get through it. The city of Dallas understands how essential it is to understand and spread awareness about mental health diseases.

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How To Find “You” Again After Losing Yourself In A Relationship


When delving into a new relationship, people tend to lose themselves especially if you’re dating someone new; there’s still the novelty, the butterflies, and the puppy love. You get the feeling of wanting to spend every moment possible with them, and that is fine. This is the part where you discover each other as an adventure.

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Dealing With Grief Alone


The word “alone” confuses and frightens many. People believe that being alone with your grief is the most terrifying thing that can happen to them since they do not know what to do with themselves when they are alone with their pain. Others prefer to be facing their grief alone as they may be feeling like no one cares, or that their loved ones are not able to help them cope with their emotions; which is why some choose to try talk therapy online to express their thoughts and feelings. Whether you are the person who is scared of solitude or someone who embraces it, here are some ways that you can deal with grief on your own.


1. Allow Yourself to Face the Void
The whirlwind of thoughts and emotions within you during this time of loss can be scary but they are only thoughts and emotions. Don’t be afraid to open yourself up and to acknowledge what is within you, no matter what it is. You may feel angry about your loved one’s death. You may feel absolutely nothing at all. Realize these feelings and allow yourself to experience them fully. Only once you’ve accepted your feelings will you be able to truly begin the healing process.


2. Put These Feelings Down Somewhere


The best way to work through feelings has always been to write them down or to find a creative outlet in which to express them. If you’re a writer, start a journal that tracks your emotional status daily and pour every thought you have into it. If you’re someone who enjoys creating music, start writing songs that reflect how you feel about your loss and how you are dealing with it. No matter what creative activity you choose to do, it’s important that you find something to pour your emotions into so that they don’t remain bottled up.


3. Don’t Fall Into a Rut
When you begin grieving, it is necessary to allow yourself to rest and to take a short break from the things that you normally do daily. However, making a habit of this will end up causing more harm than help. After you’ve dealt with the initial feelings that followed the loss of your loved one, make an effort to stick to the schedule that you had prior to grieving. You may not feel like doing anything at all and this is natural. You don’t have to push yourself to do everything that you used to but you should make an effort to do the important things so you don’t put yourself in a worse position mentally.


4. Put Together a Shrine or Dedicate a Space to Your Loved One
Just because your loved one isn’t physically with you doesn’t mean that you have to forget about them and remove every memory of them for your life. Instead, build a shrine or create a sacred space where you can gather some of their belongings and remind yourself of the importance that they had in your life. You may even want to go to that shrine to vent sometimes when you are having difficulty coping with the loss. However, don’t let this shrine get in the way of your grief process by making you refuse to accept the death.


5. Maintain Yourself


It won’t do you any good to treat your body terribly while you are already struggling emotionally. Remember to do things like eat right, exercise, groom, shower, and maintain your overall health and hygiene. Doing these things will make you feel better and will help you maintain some normality in your life while you are coping with the loss.




I Lost Him And I Wasn’t Able To Say Goodbye



It was a normal Sunday morning and my kids were all happy and excited. Too busy with life and work, they told me it was Father’s Day since I clearly forgot about it. They expected us to go out and eat somewhere fancy. I was still in bed and I knew there’s barely $50 in my wallet. How can I feed a family of seven on a sweet restaurant with only $50? I chuckled and remembered that I had to call my Grandpa and tell him Happy Father’s Day.

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A Time To Grieve… A Time To Dance


We all, at some point in our journey, experienced or will experience to lose someone.   Whether it be a parent, a child, or a sibling, a partner or a friend, we grieve all the same.  Days of sadness will seem unremitting.   For a while, you will be in silence, feeling numb.  But after the grieving, the hope of joy of the morning will come.   

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Grief Counseling What To Expect


Losing a loved one can be hard. It can be even more difficult when the grief that you experience becomes overwhelming or causes you to develop a mental illness. These are the times when it is most important to seek help so that you can better manage and process your grief. But before you start googling “therapist near me”, here are some things that you can expect out of grief counseling if finding a local therapist with BetterHelp might be an option.


  1. You Will Get Emotional

Grief counseling is by no means clean or easy. You are not going to walk into the office and walk out an hour later, clear of any negative emotions and free of the grief that used to control you. There are going to be tears, anger, and uncomfortable discussions. You are going to have to face your grief head on and you will have to talk about things that you would want to avoid on your own. Counseling is not about getting around your grief. It is about getting through your grief. Expect to face some unwanted emotions and thoughts when you get into therapy.


  1. You Will Be Forced to Do Exercises

Small tasks and milestones are important when you are going through grief counseling. For example, let’s imagine that you have lost a child recently. You may have a task in the beginning where you will be required to enter your child’s room and go through his or her things to sort out what you may want to keep and what things you can trash or give away. Later on in the process, your therapist may ask you to go through with donating and trashing some of your child’s things. It can be brutal to do but it is crucial to helping you through the grief process and allowing you to move on. These are the types of things that you may experience in therapy.


  1. Change Is Not Immediate

Much like how the memory of your loved one will not go away, grief is not going anywhere either. Over time, how you cope with the loss of your loved one will improve. For now, however, you will get the coping mechanisms from therapy that you will need for the future. Don’t walk into the therapist’s office and expect them to make you feel better again. This is not how therapy works and this mindset will immediately set you up for failure. Instead, walk into the therapist’s office with an open heart and an open mind and accept everything that comes your way.


  1. You May Not Get What You Wanted

Therapy doesn’t always work the way you want it to. This is a harsh statement, but it is the truth. You may end up working with a therapist who doesn’t work for you and therefore can’t help you properly. You may not be ready for therapy or you may even be fighting it unconsciously and preventing yourself from healing and moving forward. There is an abundance of reasons that therapy may not work for you. If it doesn’t, keep looking for help and don’t lose hope.


  1. Grief Requires Constant Work

Long after you have finished working with your therapist, you will still be feeling the effects of your grief. The symptoms may not be as serious as they were when you initially experienced the loss but they will still be there. Know this and know that you will have to be working on your grief for the remainder of your life. What you learn in therapy is designed to help you achieve this.




Common Symptoms Of Grief

Grief, as with any emotional problem, comes with its own set of symptoms. However, these symptoms will vary from person to person depending on how they normally react and cope when faced with traumatic events.The emptiness, as discussed in this BetterHelp article, depends on how one copes. Whether you are feeling empty or you are having a difficult time getting through the day without crying, here are the common symptoms of grief that all people deal with.

Emotional Symptoms of Grief

  • Emptiness- When you initially learn about the loss of a loved one, you may feel a degree of emotional emptiness or numbness. This is due to the fact that you are dealing with the shock of the news and your mind has not yet processed the information in a way that it can cope with yet. This feeling, however, typically wears off eventually and you will begin to experience the other symptoms on this list.
  • Sadness- Sadness is the most common symptom of grief. You should expect to feel sadness as a result of the loss of your loved one.
  • Anger- You may feel angry at the world or at your loved one for the grief that you are experiencing. You shouldn’t feel bad about feeling this way as it is natural to be angry at something when your loved one passes. However, remember that this feeling will fade away as you go through the grief process and move on to other emotions.
  • Fear- If you’ve lost a great many people in a short period of time, you may begin feeling scared or worried that something terrible will happen to you as well. This is natural as well and will fade over time. Try to find ways that you can alleviate this fear so that you will be able to keep it from preventing you from living life.


Physical Manifestations of Grief

  • Fatigue- Grief not only causes emotional problems but manifests itself physically as well. One of the most common physical symptoms of grief is fatigue. You may feel as though you are not able to gather the energy needed to do basic tasks throughout your day. You may also begin sleeping more as a result of your loss. This type of symptom will fix itself over time.
  • Unexplained aches and pains- If you’re grieving and you’re having a difficult time dealing with it, you most likely are dealing with this symptom. It is common for people dealing with physical pain when they are also feeling extreme emotional pain. These types of aches and pains include headaches, stomach aches, and back pain.
  • Eating too much or eating too little– You may find after you’ve lost your loved one that you have absolutely no appetite at all or you may develop a voracious appetite. Either way, this is natural for those dealing with grief. You should keep both of these symptoms in check to prevent yourself from starving, overeating, or developing an eating disorder.

Changes That You Will Experience in Life

Grief has the ability to affect your body as well as your surroundings. Some external symptoms of grief include social changes and changes in faith. Through your grief, you will be able to determine who you truly want in your life and you will probably have moments where you will question your faith and the way that the world around you works. Expect these things to come into existence during the grieving process.

Most importantly, if any of the symptoms above stick around for months and you feel that you have not moved forward in your grief process, seek help as you may have developed a mental illness as a result of your grief.





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