If you have recently lost a loved one, you are undoubtedly going through a wide range of emotions. There is no right or wrong way to grieve, no road map or guidebook that tells us what we are supposed to feel at what point. More importantly, there is no norm for when the grieving process terminates. Each person experiences grief in their own way and works through it in their own time. But how do you know if your grief has become something more serious? Recognizing when normal grief has turned the corner to major depression is hard for anyone to determine, even the professionals that diagnose and treat depression.
The American Psychiatric Association, or APA, and its diagnostic manual has long warned doctors away from diagnosing major depression in people who’ve just lost a loved one. It’s known as the bereavement exclusion in the DSM, or the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. A proposed change in a draft of the DSM’s next edition, however, eliminates that bereavement exclusion, leaving many worried about where to draw the line between grief and depression.
Whether the bereavement exclusion applies or not, most professionals agree that if you are concerned that your grief has turned into depression, or those close to you are concerned, then it is likely time to seek help. Whether it turns out that what you are going through is normal grief, or something more serious, having someone to talk to may help.