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.

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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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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Memorializing Your Father

Your father is one of the most valuable people that you will ever have in your life as with all of your family members, but most likely there was no one as close to you as your father. What do you do when your father passes? This is a hard question that most of us would just prefer not to think about even as our parents reach their mid-life. We all must face this sooner or later, but with the help of this article, you will be better prepared to handle the inevitable. The most important part is that not all of these methods require a form of money.

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Recovering From Grief In A Chat Room


Grief can be an overwhelming emotion that, if not properly processed and overcome by a person, can lead to deleterious mental effects. People cope in many different ways, but with recent advances in internet technology, seeking for support and help can go beyond the virtual realms of chat room services. This article will introduce different online chat rooms that solely talks about grief, loss and how to bounce back and start a new life.

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Healing Strategies To Cope With Bereavement


Moving Forward

It is without a doubt that one of the most stressful events in the life of an individual is to lose a loved one from a sudden or mysterious death. To the observer, the pain and loneliness are there but can be dealt with easily, especially if it was ‘a good way to go.’  But to the bereaved, it is more than just the pain. It is the thought of not having to see or touch your loved one forever. Feelings of shock, anger, seclusion, sadness, and confusion get all mixed up from within. There is hopelessness that the wounds can never be healed.

As time goes by, the pain and the sadness lessen, usually after you have gone through the denial, anger, and depression stages of grief. Amidst the mourning, you are now able to open your mind to help yourself with some essential healing measures to cope with bereavement.

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How Parents Can Cope With The Loss Of Their Son


The death of someone, though it is a natural phenomenon, is something that you and I will never get used to experiencing. When my parents lost their first-born son, my oldest brother, it was as though everything went blank and the world stopped revolving. The pain was too much to bear, and looking at my parents made the hurt worse. As a family, we had to seek help from a minister and a therapist to guide us through the grief process. Now, I would say we have managed to live life with a purpose, although it wasn’t easy at all.

We still think of him, miss him and wish he were around. However, things have settled and the family has accepted the inevitable fact. Here are some of the things that my parents did to cope with the loss of their son. Continue reading “How Parents Can Cope With The Loss Of Their Son” »

The Stages Of Grief And Loss


It has been a year since your father passed away. Still, the anguish and loneliness creep in and you continue to grieve by hibernating in the corners of your room, playing busy with work, or simply crying yourself to sleep most nights. You might think, “Will I ever get over my Dad’s death? Will I ever be happy again?”

Losing someone we love is one of the most difficult things that we can ever experience. Though death is a natural phenomenon, that fact is easier understood than accepted. It can never be dealt with just like that. But as the saying goes, this too shall pass, and it will. But then, sometimes you wonder if the pain is ever going to end. How long is the normal way to grieve? Can you do something about it?

The process of grieving is something that we cannot control. Not everyone grieves the same way you do. They may have different channels to their grief. Nevertheless, healing from the pain of losing someone comprises different stages. You will do well if you are aware of these stages. In that way, you can come to terms with your emotions and finally be ready to let go of the pain. Continue reading “The Stages Of Grief And Loss” »

Dealing With Depression After The Loss Of A Loved One


Depression vs. Grief

Of all the painful experiences that we go through in life, one of the most devastating is the death of a loved one. We may deal with the loss in different ways, but the emotions are the same – sadness, anger, anxiety, hopelessness. It is just too heartbreaking. Sometimes, the grieving process lengthens and becomes long term. Therefore, the individual suffers complicated grief. When this grief is so intense that it affects his day-to-day activities, he has possibly gone into a depressive state, which causes more negative emotions and behaviors, like loss of will, alcohol addiction, which cause compounding problems as they have to deal with more issues and seek help with addiction, depression, among others.

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