Difference between Grief and Depression

Difference between Grief and Depression

There is a relationship between grief and depression, but they are not the same thing.

About Grief

Grief is defined as keen mental suffering or distress over affliction or loss or as sharp sorrow or painful regret. Grief is also perceived to be a natural response to death or loss. While most commonly associated with the death of a loved one, people can also feel loss when the following occurs:

  • They become separated from a loved one
  • They lose a job, position or income (retirement)
  • A pet dies or runs away
  • Kids leave home
  • Major life change such as divorce occur

No person will be able to live their life without grief. Grief is a part of life and is unavoidable as we all experience loss.

Stages of Grief

The well-known stages of grief include the following:

  • Denial. This stage is thought to help a person get over the initial shock of the loss. By going into denial a personal often feels numb and removed from the event. Denial can help a person pace their feelings of grief by only letting in as much as the person can handle at the time. As you continue to heal, the emotions that denial has kept at bay will surface.
  • Anger. Often associated with the person’s feelings of helplessness and loss of power, a person may experience a deep sense of abandonment. While anger is an emotion that people do not want to experience, it does allow a person to focus and move forward.
  • Bargaining. It is human nature to not want to let go of a person you loved, so you enter into the bargaining phase with a sense of hope. Hope is an extremely difficult emotion to give up, so bargaining is used in an attempt to hold onto that hope. However, when bargaining fails, a person can continue the grieving process.
  • Depression. This is the stage in which depression and grief come together. When the shock has warn off, the anger has dissipated, and the bargaining has failed, a person is susceptible to depression.
  • Acceptance. When a person reconciles with the emotions and behaviors they experienced as a result of their loss, the healing power of acceptance can come into play. While the loss does not go away, a person learns that this state is their new “normal,” and they learn to readjust to it.

Dealing with Grief and Depression

Counselors offer the following tips for dealing with grief and depression:

  • Acknowledge and accept both positive and negative feelings
  • Allow plenty of time to experience thoughts and feelings
  • Confide in a trusted person about the loss
  • Express feelings openly or write journal entries about them
  • Find bereavement groups in which there are other people who have had similar losses
  • Remember that crying can provide a release
  • Seek professional help if feelings are overwhelming

Get Help for Depression and Grief

If you are struggling with depression and grief, get help to learn healthy coping skills. Call our toll-free helpline for confidential support and information. We are here to help 24 hours a day.