Is it grief or depression?

Loss is painful — whether a loss of independence, mobility, health, your long-time career, or someone you love. Grieving over these losses is normal, even if the feelings of sadness last for weeks or months. Losing all hope and joy, however, is not normal. It’s depression.

Although a grieving person may experience a number of depressive symptoms such as frequent crying and profound sadness, grief is a natural and healthy response to bereavement and other major losses. There is a difference, however, between a normal grief reaction and one that is disabling or unrelenting. While there’s no set timetable for grieving, it if doesn’t let up over time or extinguishes all signs of joy – laughing at a good joke, brightening in response to a hug, appreciating a beautiful sunset – it may be depression.

Although depression in the elderly is a common problem, only a small percentage get the help they need. There are many reasons depression in older adults is so often overlooked. Some assume seniors have good reason to be down or that depression is just part of aging. Elderly adults are often isolated, with few around to notice their distress.


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