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What is the difference between depression and grief?

When has grief gone on too long and how do you differentiate it from clinical depression?
Status: Open    Sep 23, 2014 - 05:25 PM

Senior Health & Nutrition

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Sep 01, 2015 - 12:17 PM

Feeling sad, upset or overwhelmed at times is normal, especially during the more difficult moments in life. Physical illness, the death of a loved one, family problems, or any other major loss can leave us feeling vulnerable and alone. However, normally these feelings pass and we find the strength to go on with our lives.

Clinical depression is different. Although it may feel similar to “the blues,” depression is a sense of sadness or hopelessness that just won’t go away and, in many cases, seriously interferes with day- to-day living. Contrary to what some people may think, depression is not a character flaw or a sign of weakness. It is a medical condition that can affect anyone. In fact, today more than 19 million Americans suffer from depression.

The good news is that depression is highly treatable. Eighty to ninety percent of people with depression will respond well to treatment. The bad news is that many people suffering from depression – as many as 66 percent – do not seek help and consequently do not receive the care they need.

What Causes Depression?

No one knows for sure why some people cross the line from simply feeling “blue” to becoming depressed. Some of the most common causes may be a genetic predisposition, physical changes like menopause, a catastrophic life event, a severe illness, or even an adverse drug reaction. Depression may also result from too much stress – pressures from family responsibilities, financial problems, or separation from a loved one. Finally, depression may be the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain that may be treatable with medication.


Judah Gutwein, L.N.H.A.
Regency Nursing and Post-acute Rehabilitation Centers of New Jersey


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