Grief vs Depression

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Grief vs Depression

Post by Raindancing on Wed Feb 11, 2015 5:43 pm

What's the difference between grief and depression? Is there one?

My dad died at the end of October, and I still feel basically non-functional.
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Re: Grief vs Depression

Post by Dan_Brodribb on Wed Feb 11, 2015 6:01 pm

Depression can definitely be a component of grief.

There's really no right or wrong way to grieve. People go through it in their own time and their own way. Even people who are very close to one another can grieve very differently, so sometimes it can be hard to share it even with the people who are closest to us that we think should understand.

What is your life like these days?

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Re: Grief vs Depression

Post by Enail on Wed Feb 11, 2015 7:09 pm

Oh, Raindancing, I'm so sorry about your father. I don't really know where the line is between depression and grief, but it sounds like you're worried about the length of time it's been interfering with your ability to live your life, so it wouldn't hurt to talk to your doctor or a therapist about it.
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Re: Grief vs Depression

Post by Werel on Wed Feb 11, 2015 7:40 pm

I'm so sorry about your dad.

I can tell you about how the two compare for me, if that'd be useful. My dad died suddenly a few years ago. I've had major depressive disorder since I was a kid. For me, grief and depression have very similar symptoms. The line is thin and blurry: both make me feel, essentially, cognitively crippled. I have trouble processing thoughts, expressing myself verbally (often to the point of slurring my speech, or just sitting slack-jawed as I try to recall a word), remembering anything, or focusing. Both cause me to burst into tears spontaneously, but grief-tearbursts feel... sharper than depression-induced ones. Like there's a pointy stone lodged in your chest, instead of a weird, generalized ache.

For a full year or two after my dad's death, I just felt... stupider. I can't think of another way to put it. I felt like I had lost a lot of my cognitive functioning, and a lot of my short-term memory. Time jumped past me in huge chunks; there were times when it felt like I'd lost months, with no recollection of what happened. My depression causes time to slip, too, but not as dramatically. It's been more than five years, and much of my memory and cognitive capacity has come back, but I am certainly a changed person. I don't usually feel like a changed person after a depressive episode. So there's another difference.

I don't know if you have a history of depression which you've already been managing, or whether you're trying to figure out whether it'd be worth seeking treatment for depression potentially induced by grief. It's very possible that, if after a few more months you're still not functioning (there's no set term for grieving, but October is still awfully fresh), your grief has transmuted itself into a depressive episode (without the courtesy of letting you know "hey! This is now depression, which is clearly recognizable as a different thing!" Unfortunately, grief is rarely that considerate). My mom has no history of depression at all, but was very grateful that she had access to antidepressants for a year or two after dad's death. They can take the edge off, and spare you the extra helping of steaming shit that is chemical depression, while you wait for the wound to start healing.

This is a hard thing to go through. It will sometimes feel like it's going to take you down with it. But I'm still here, and I still love my dad, and I try every day to live up to the person he saw in me. I'll be thinking of you, Raindancing, and wishing you some solace during this bad, bad time.
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Re: Grief vs Depression

Post by kleenestar on Wed Feb 11, 2015 7:48 pm

Oh, that is so hard. I'm really sorry for your loss.

After my father died, I was deep in grief for a long time - nearly two years before I really started to come back to myself. During that period of grief, I also had an episode of depression. I could tell the difference because I knew some of my depression symptoms, like finding basic hygiene really difficult, but internally it felt like really bad, deeper grief that I believed would never lift. The "believed would never lift" and other jerkbrain talk was also a symptom, but that turned out to be a really bad distinguishing characteristic for me because I had so many well-meaning people try to deal with their discomfort with my grief by telling me I'd feel better soon.

Edited to add: for me, dealing with the depression let me get back to dealing with my grief. When I was both grieving and depressed, I was "stuck" in a way that grieving alone didn't produce.
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Re: Grief vs Depression

Post by Raindancing on Wed Feb 11, 2015 8:02 pm

Thanks everyone, Werel especially. I think my experience is very like what you described. I feel stupider, in a way that neither the depression or PTSD I've experienced in the past made me feel.

Seriously, typing a few sentences here is really hard. I felt like my initial post ought to be more detailed, but I couldn't manage it.

I am a stay-at-home mom, and I'm grateful for that. I was an adjunct math professor for years before that, there's no way I could teach in this state. Before my dad's decline (honestly even though he died in October, I date my loss of him to August, when he started not-recognizing me) I was working on a hobby programming project that I had hoped to turn into a business eventually, and now that's broken and I can't fix it, and I don't even know whether I care.
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Re: Grief vs Depression

Post by Dan_Brodribb on Wed Feb 11, 2015 9:46 pm

I noticed 'feeling stupider' after my brother died a few years ago.

People talk about "losing your brother," and I always thought it was a metaphor until it happened. But it LITERALLY felt like I had lost something. I expected sadness and instead I was hit with confusion.

It was like the feeling of having misplaced my keys--"I've got my coat. I've got my shoes, everything else is where it should be...so where are my keys?

I was wandering around in a daze going, "I don't get it. Where's my brother? I left him RIGHT HERE."

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Re: Grief vs Depression

Post by fakely mctest on Thu Feb 12, 2015 12:44 am

Oh I'm very sorry to hear about your dad and the troubles you're having.

I'd add to what Werel said about sensation and say that, for me, when I was going through a tough depressive episode there was a marked difference in even my sensory experience of the world and the pain I was feeling. In depression I feel a bit like I'm wrapped in cotton wool and also looking through the wrong end of a telescope at everything around me. I'd stand on the Metro platform to go to work in the morning and it would genuinely seem to me like everyone else was standing about a mile away. With grief everything tends to feel too close and raw and just too much all the time.

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Re: Grief vs Depression

Post by Raindancing on Sat Mar 07, 2015 11:47 pm

So things are getting surprisingly better in such a short time. It helped so much to know that feeling stupider is not uncommon, so that's one less thing to beat myself up over, and then I finally went to see a doctor (several actually, but that's another topic) about the fact that I was still having pain from a fall back in July. One of the doctors said he was absolutely certain that my pain could be fixed with surgery, and a ton of my depression lifted immediately. I hadn't realized how afraid I was that I was going to be in physical pain forever, and how much of my depression was due to that.

So, putting one foot in front of the other, things are feeling a lot better than they were two weeks ago.
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Re: Grief vs Depression

Post by Enail on Sat Mar 07, 2015 11:49 pm

Oh, really glad to hear that, Raindancing. I hope things continue to feel better!
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Re: Grief vs Depression

Post by Werel on Sun Mar 08, 2015 6:28 pm

Oh good-- I'm so glad to hear it, Raindancing! Keep on putting one foot in front of the other.
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