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Overlapping Symptoms of Depression and Grief

Updated on January 27, 2020
richard appiah profile image

Richard is a Certified Nurse Assistant and has been working in the homecare settings for over 12 years . He is a father of 3 beautiful kids


Depression is a mental illness that directly affects your behavior, mood, and thinking. It alters the way you feel, act and think. It causes feelings of a lack of interest in activities and can decrease the person’s functionality. In the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental health disorders DSM 5, depression is placed under the heading of major depressive disorders. It seems to be more common among women than men.

The high rate of prevalence of depression in the community demands more attention from families, health and educational institutes. Lack of information about mental health statics is one of the major problems. The higher prevalence rate of mental health disorders like depression calls for more researches and surveys to be conducted throughout the country to address the need for periodical medical evaluation and psychological support for identified cases.

Symptoms of depression

The symptoms of depression can vary depending upon the individual differences, co-occurring disorders, socio-cultural background, and substance abuse. The symptoms of depression must last for at least two weeks for the diagnosis. Depression symptoms can be categorized under four subheadings.

Behavioral symptoms

• Poor academic performance and a large number of absentees.

• Irritability, anger, and agitation.

• Lack of social interaction and conflict in interpersonal relationships.

• Substance abuse and disruptive behavior.

• Restlessness and lack of interest in pleasurable activities.

Physical symptoms

• Lack or excess of sleep.

• Weight loss or gain.

• Change in appetite and lack of energy.

• Increase in purposeless physical activity e.g. pacing.

Cognitive symptoms

• Attention, thinking, and decision-making problems.

• The trouble with short-term memory.

Psychosocial symptoms

• Feelings of sadness and worthlessness.

• Suicidal ideation.

• Sensitive to rejection, failure and demand extreme reassurance.

• Increased self-criticism and self-blame.

• Self-harm and self-mutilation.

• Feelings of hopelessness and guilt.

The symptoms of depression can be difficult for the peer group to spot, as it sometimes overlaps with the normal pressure and adjustment issues. You can figure out the typical symptoms by observing the changes happening in the individual. Some of the most prominent symptoms of depression found are irritability, anger, and agitation.

Risk factors

Regardless of the causes of depression, some risk factors also contribute to making your loved ones prone to depression. It was once believed that children and adolescents couldn’t develop depression, nowadays we know that it can develop at any age. Depression cannot cause by a single factor, it is the result of many genetic, physical, social and environmental factors. Some of the risk factors are:

• Early childhood trauma.

• Victim of psychological, verbal and physical bullying.

• Loss of a parent and low self-esteem.

• Chronic medical illness.

• Physical, sexual or emotional abuse.

• Differences in certain chemicals in the brain.

• It can run in families.


Depression has five main types.

Unipolar and bipolar depression- In unipolar depression, the predominant feature is depressed mood while in bipolar depression, is characterized by both manic and depressive episodes separated by periods of normal mood. Individuals with bipolar depression also experience high moods known as mania but unipolar people don’t go as high as in the former one. Bipolar disorder is difficult to diagnose because of the similarity of symptoms to normal depression when someone is in a low mood or sad.

Recurrent depressive disorder- It involves repeated depressive episodes in which a person experiences depressed mood, loss of interest in pleasurable activities and reduced energy for at least two weeks. Depending on the duration and severity of symptoms, it can be categorized into mild, moderate and severe.

• Major depressive disorder with psychotic features- In this condition, depression is accompanied by psychosis which involves delusions and hallucinations. It is associated with significant morbidity and mortality. It is estimated that approximately 14 to 50% of people are diagnosed with psychotic depression. Mental health professionals take psychotic depression very seriously because of the chances of self-harm increases.

Postpartum depression- It is the postnatal depression. A type of depression that many people experience after having a baby is postnatal depression. It’s made up of two words: post means after and natal means birth. It is a very common problem as it affects every 1 in 10 women within a year of giving birth to a baby. It doesn’t only affect the mother but the fathers and partners are affected as well. It is important to ask for help when you notice that the symptoms are lasting for more than one month and it is affecting your baby and other family members.

Major depressive disorder with seasonal pattern- It is related to the reduced daylight during winters. It is previously known as seasonal affective disorder SAD. The prevalence of this disorder varies according to age, sex, and geography. This condition is a presentation of atypical depression often seen in bipolar disorders that people tend to gain weight and sleep more. The symptoms usually begin in October/November and subside in March/April.

Prevalence of depression

According to the World Health Organization report, more than 264 million people of all ages suffer from depression. The number of women affected by depression is higher than those of men. It is the leading cause of disability worldwide and also to suicide.


Depression can lead you to the darker shade of your life, if not treated well. With the advancement in psychological treatments, even severe depression is treatable. If you find yourself suffering from depression or any kind of depressive disorder, don’t feel hesitate to ask for help.

As we all know that individual differences exist, so how can we say that one treatment plan is good for all suffering from depression. Learning about your depression, different treatment options will help you decide which treatment is good for you. Depression treatment plan varies from medication to therapy and lifestyle changes, there are many effective options to choose from. I will discuss different treatment plans in detail.


The most advertised treatment for depression is medication. But that doesn’t mean that it is the only treatment option or it has long term effects. A chemical imbalance in the brain is not the only reason for depression. Medication does not cure the underlying problem, it has some side effects too and withdrawal can be very difficult.

You can go for other treatment options along with medication like lifestyle change or some therapy.


If there is no underlying medical cause of depression than therapy is the best way to cure depression. Talk therapy can work best for effective treatment. Therapies can teach you skills and insight to feel better and prevent depression from coming back. The three most common therapies used for depression are behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, and psychodynamic therapy.

Most of the therapies teach you to reframe negative thinking and use behavioral skills to fight depression. Therapies can make you confront your negative thinking and your fears. Therapy can help you understand the pattern of your relationship, build positive relationships and improve current relationships to reduce isolation and build strong social support.

Not only one on one session with the therapist is beneficial but group therapies can also be used to treat depression. In individual therapy, you are building a strong connection with only one person but in group therapy, you are listening to a peer group that can validate your experiences and helps you build self-esteem.

Lifestyle changes

The most simple and powerful tool to treat depression without any help is a lifestyle change. It can go well with any other kind of treatment. Regular exercise can be as beneficial as medication. Exercise can act on the same principle as the antidepressants. It not only boosts the feel-good brain chemicals like serotonin and endorphins but also triggers the growth of new brain cells. A daily walk of 30 minutes can make a difference.

As I have said earlier, strong social support is required to reduce isolation. A person must keep in touch with friends and family. You can join a new class or do anything through which you would be able to spend quality time with the people around you.

A healthy diet is necessary for both mental and physical health. You can minimize your mood swings by eating a small but well-balanced diet throughout the day. Food can boost your energy and a mix of complex carbohydrates will be the best choice.

Sleep deprivation can cause irritability, stress, and sadness. A good sleep of 7-8 hours is necessary for good health.

Depression is associated with other mental health disorders like eating and sleeping disorder. It can affect your whole family and your everyday life. There are plenty of things you can do to feel better. You can take help from a mental health professional, doctor, and teacher. Depression is treatable, and your peer group can help the most. Your love, guidance, and support can help to fight depression and overcome it.


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