Ever since my stepfather died last year, I have been in a funk. We weren’t close and I don’t understand my reaction. I have been prone to depression my whole life, but it has never affected me in this way. I have a decent life, a loving family, and a fiancée who is the most wonderful person in the world. Why am I still feeling like this? Can you recommend anything to help get me through this very bad time?
When a relative or close friend dies, the survivor’s grief reaction can be a lot like depression. Grief and depression share such symptoms as sad or depressed mood, withdrawal, decreased interest in usual activities, decreased appetite, and sleep disturbances. But, unlike depression, after a while the intensity of the grief fades and normal life resumes.
Sometimes, however, grief merges into depression and requires intervention. Depression is likely to be present when no improvement in symptoms takes place over many months; when a person is continually depressed rather than experiencing pangs of sadness; when support and comfort seem to be ineffective; or when suicidal ideas are present.
Often in such cases, the onlooker senses something amiss in the reaction of the survivor. Sometimes a person shows little or no grief in response to a loss, and then shows depression.
Depression linked to grief is just as serious as any depression and should be treated, not accepted as “natural” or “understandable.” Untreated major depression can lead to suicide, but remember, depression is an eminently treatable condition. Make sure you get help.