A note from Kelly King: It is not uncommon to have periods of sorrow, but there is a difference between normal periods of sadness and depression that is debilitating and needs professional help. Kaye Hurta unpacks the differences today. If you think you are experiencing clinical depression, please contact a doctor or licensed counselor.
We have discussed in previous articles how pervasive feelings of grief are. Grief impacts our whole being: our bodies, our souls, and our spirits. We have discussed how every feeling and response is normal, but not all are helpful. The symptoms for grief look very similar to the symptoms of clinical depression. The depression associated with grieving may be scary and uncomfortable, but it is not life-threatening. Clinical depression, on the other hand, can become dangerous and requires professional attention. Please note: this article is not intended to provide a diagnosis of your situation. If you read this and something resonates with you, please seek the advice of a medical professional.
Here are the similarities between normal grief and clinical depression:
- Little interest or pleasure in doing things
- Feeling down, depressed, or hopeless
- Having trouble falling or staying asleep, or sleeping too much
- Feeling tired or having little energy
- Diminished appetite OR overeating/binging
- Trouble concentrating on simple things, such as reading or watching TV (foggy brain)
- Moving or speaking noticeably slower OR being overly fidgety and unable to stop moving
Do any of these sound familiar? This week marks the 27th anniversary of the death of my mom. Twenty-seven years later and there are moments when it can feel like it was yesterday. I don’t stay in that feeling for long, but it is a reminder to me that loss has forever changed the landscape of my soul. Revisiting feelings of sadness even years after the initial loss is perfectly normal and should be expected; this is normal grief. However, there are three unique differences between what is normal grief and what might actually be clinical depression. They are:
- Feelings of unreasonable guilt, worthlessness, hopelessness, or self-loathing
- A focus on negative memories of the departed; deep alienation from others; an inability to be comforted
- Having thoughts to harm yourself in some way or thoughts that you might be better off dead
If these describe how you feel most of the time, please reach out for help. Be courageous and kind to yourself and call your medical doctor or a professional counselor. If you are having thoughts to harm yourself right now, please call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or call 911.
If you are helping someone through the grieving process, ask them to tell you their stories of loss. As they do, please listen for these similarities and differences and offer next steps accordingly. What are some helpful next steps? That is for next week’s article.
Kaye Hurta has a Masters Degree in counseling from Liberty University and is a crisis counselor for Women’s Events through LifeWay Christian Resources. Whether speaking, singing, or listening, Kaye’s passion is to help others find intimacy with Christ and soul transformation through the living pages of His Word. Kaye met and married her husband Chris in Austin, Texas in 1987. They have two daughters through the miracle of adoption, Madison and Cami. They live in the Chicago burbs where they are both on staff at Willow Creek Community Church. Kaye is also a contributing author for the LifeWay resource, Women Reaching Women in Crisis.