Lately, I have been feeling very sad. My father died
several months ago, and I seem to be having a difficult
time getting back to normal. Could this be depression?
Everyone feels sadness and grieves the loss of a loved
one. That is expected. Usually, these feelings of grief
lessen on their own over time. It may take awhile, but
grieving is a normal, natural process.
However, significant life changes and stressors can be
factors in bringing about depression. Depression occurs
when these feelings of extreme sadness last for at least
two weeks or longer and when they interfere with daily
life activities. These impacted activities can range from
working to eating and sleeping. Depressed individuals
often feel overwhelmed, exhausted, helpless, and
hopeless. Withdrawing from family and friends is not
At times, the depressed person will blame themselves
for their depression. They think they "should be better"
and wonder why they "can't deal with things anymore."
This leads to a feeling of guilt which, in turn, leads to
increased despair and worsening depression.
This may be the bridge between "normal" grieving and
depression. Sometimes, people who are grieving the
loss of a loved one do not give themselves adequate
time to grieve. Trying to establish a normal life once
again, they think they should be "over" the loss of their
loved one and feel like a failure when they continue to
experience grief. They establish a negative pattern of
thinking in which they criticize themselves, which
generates more feelings of hopelessness. These feelings
of depression are viewed as signs of weakness rather
than as indicators that something is "out of balance."
It is rare that depressed people simply "snap out of it" and
feel better on their own.
Hope need not be abandoned. Help is available.
Through psychotherapy and possibly medication
therapy, depressed individuals can regain a sense of joy
and management of their moods. They can see choices
where they thought none existed and alter the negative
thinking patterns that often accompanies depression.
Depressed individuals do not have to suffer needlessly.
For additional information, contact the Rice - Lewis
Answered by: Dr. Julie Howard, Ph. D.