Am I Experiencing Normal Grief or Am I Depressed?

By Kimber Decker, MA, MEd, LPC

Woman crying - showing grief

We all experience loss. When we do, we grieve. It is normal. Often, Normal Grief exists alongside other emotional and mental concerns we already deal with in our daily lives (called co-occurring issues). A common one is depression.

It is good to know what normal grief looks, sounds, and feels like. It helps us manage the sadness, sorrow, and pain we are experiencing because of loss. It also helps us to understand and continue to manage our other emotional and mental concerns as well. It is good to know what depression looks like in comparison to grief. Here a list of some common differences and similarities between Normal Grief and Depression.

Normal Grief looks, sounds, and feels like this . . .
Deep Sadness
Difficulty Accepting the loss
Seeing and hearing things related to the loss

Depression looks, sound, and feels like this . . .
Guilt that is not related to your loss
Feeling unworthy
Prolonged periods having trouble in your daily functioning
Thinking about harming yourself (suicidal ideation)

What they have in common . . .
Intense unease, discontent, and anxiety
Sleeping difficulties
Loss of appetite
Weight loss

What to remember and do . . .

Man distraught- showing grief

Remember, grief is a natural response to loss, and we all grieve in different ways. It is a natural, intense, and may lessen in a matter of weeks or months allowing you to return to your daily routine.  It is the least intrusive form of grief a person may experience. Sometimes more intense forms, along with mental health concerns, can lead to devastating consequences in a person’s life. If you ever have questions, confusion, feelings, thoughts, or actions related to your grief, talk to a mental health professional that specializes in Grief and Bereavement Therapy. Normal Grief can interfere with depression and emotional or mental concerns you may already be dealing with. A mental health professional can support you in your time of loss, help to manage your depression, and improve your mental health.

Kimber Decker MA, MEd, LPC brings over three decades of experience in working with people of all ages in the areas of education, human services, and mental health. Kimber provides counseling services to individuals, couples and families, and groups. He specializes in helping those who are dealing with complex trauma, attachment, anxiety, major life adjustments, grief and loss, and spiritual and religious trauma/abuse recovery issues. 

The Fountain Hill Center