Difference Between Grief and Depression

Depression has become the second most common health problem worldwide, and it is very difficult to diagnose and treat since it shares most of the characteristics with simple emotional responses experienced by people. Simply saying depression is not the sadness nor is the sadness depression. Depression is a collection of symptoms and signs, which makes it a syndrome, and there is a specific criterion for the diagnosis of the disease. Grief is a reaction to loss of loved ones. So there are differences in grief and depression and this article would be helpful in differentiating these two terms.

What is Grief?

Grief is an emotional reaction to loss of loved ones and it is commonly manifested as sadness and crying. It is usually related to a circumstance of losing someone. There are several theories that have put forward to explain this response and they have described seven stages of grief. In the first stage, the person does not believe the truth of loss. The next stages include denial, bargaining, guilt, anger, depression and ultimately the acceptance of the truth allowing the person to return to his normal life. It has been found; apart from the emotional response it comprises physical, cognitive, social and behavioral components.

There is no specific treatment modality to cope with grief, but counseling is reported to have beneficial effects.

What is Depression?

As mentioned above, depression is a clinical syndrome. Depressed mood, loss of interest and enjoyment, reduced energy, and increased fatigability are considered to be characteristics of depression. Other features include reduced self esteem and self confidence, ideas of guilt and worthlessness, bleak and pessimistic view of the future, ideas or acts of self harm or suicide, reduced concentration and attention, disturbed sleep and diminished appetite. These symptoms should last at least 2 weeks to make the diagnosis.

In depression, the low mood does not vary much, and it is often not related to circumstances. The mood may show a characteristic diurnal variation often being worse in the early morning. In some cases, the mood may be masked by excessive physical complaints where diagnosis of depression is difficult to make without excluding other conditions.

Depression should be diagnosed and treated since it can affect the individual’s health in all the ways. Management includes pharmacological as well as psychological treatment. Commonly used drugs are tricyclic antidepressants such as amitriptyline, imipramine and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors such as fluoxetine. All the adverse effects vs benefits of drugs and the presence of other co-morbid or general medical illnesses should be considered before prescribing any of these drugs. Psychological treatment includes cognitive behavior therapy and interpersonal therapy. However, these treatment methods require expertise and good patient compliance.


What is the difference between Grief and Depression?

• Grief is an emotional reaction to loss of loved ones while depression is a clinical syndrome.

• Grief is often associated with a circumstance while depression is not.

• There are specific treatments modalities are available to treat depression, but for grief, there is no specific treatment but counseling may have a beneficial effect.