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Coping With Depression/Losses

By: Ellen Berk, LCSW, BCD

In our society, not all losses are openly acknowledged. Losing a job, chronic illness, the end of a relationship, and unfulfilled expectations can all generate depression or grief reactions. Yet we're uncomfortable expressing our feelings when others don't offer much support. Grieving and depression can also be cloaked in secrecy. How can you know if you're symptoms are severe enough to warrant help? Here are some questions to ask yourself:

Symptoms of depression

  • Depressed mood.
  • Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all activities most of the day everyday.
  • Significant weight loss or gain when not dieting, or increase or decrease in appetite every day.
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia nearly every day.
  • Psychomotor agitation or retardation (observable by others)
  • Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day.
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day.
  • Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day.
  • Recurrent thoughts of death, not just fear of dying, recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or suicide attempt, or a specific plan for committing suicide.

Have you experienced any of these recently: death of a relative or friend, end of an important relationship, a severe illness or disability, job loss, disruptive relocation, realizing that you haven't fulfilled you dreams - such as a "midlife crisis", or a change in roles - such as children leaving home or caring for elderly parents?

Symptoms of grief

  • Do you go from feeling up to feeling down in the same day?
  • Are there specific events that seem to trigger feelings of sadness?
  • Does crying come and go in cycles, and is it related to memories of loss?
  • Have you had any vivid dreams of your loss?

If you answered "YES" to most questions, you are experiencing depression and/or grief. That's normal human reaction to loss. As you acknowledge and process you loss, the depressive symptoms should become less intense. If you feel overwhelmed - or that you have no support -counseling can help you recover.

To find out more about your own communication style, Assess Your Communication Style.

Also check out the list of Recommended Reading.

Other Resources
About the Author
Contact Ellen

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Changing How You Define Success Can Ensure Happiness
Coping With Depression/Losses
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