Skip to Content

The Difference Between Grief and Depression

Grief and depression might share a few similarities like insomnia, poor appetite, weight loss, and rumination. There isn’t a standard time limit that defines when these two conditions end, and they can be interconnected at times.

For instance, grief may lead to depression in some cases. A person suffering from depression can also experience grief. For these reasons, it could sometimes be challenging for patients to tell if they’re suffering from one or the other.

Contrasts Between Depression and Grief

Despite there being similarities between depression and grief, physicians could differentiate the two. Usually, they both occur due to different causes and have unique symptoms that can help distinguish one from the other.

Doctors might advise that it’s vital for patients to identify if they’re suffering from grief or depression. This is because one’s treatment might not be sufficient for the other. To ensure proper healing and improve a patient’s well-being, the two conditions must be handled appropriately.

If you’re in a situation where you can’t tell if you’re suffering from depression or grief, this article could be helpful.

Here, you’ll find out about the factors that distinguish the two. Read on to learn more.


Grief is often caused by loss or death. Most people experience this if a loved one is separated from them, leaves home, or passes away. Dismissal from work or the death or misplacement of a pet could also lead to this condition.  Besides that, grief might also result from significant life changes like divorce, retirement, or relocation.

Usually, people grieve differently. However, everyone goes through similar stages that are essential for the healing process. These are shock and denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

  • Symptoms of Grief

Specialists may believe that grief occurs naturally as a response to loss or death. It’s thought to be necessary as it often leads to complete healing. Some of the common signs of this condition may include:

  • Bitterness about the loss experienced
  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Detachment
  • Feeling weak and tired
  • Avoidance of or extreme focus on the loss or death that occurred
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Lack of energy

Over time, these symptoms tend to fade away, allowing a person to heal. However, some people might be unable to stop grieving, and this could develop into a complicated state that takes longer to recover. This might result in severe issues like chronic depression and suicidal thoughts.

  • Treatment for Grief

For proper healing, patients are often advised to attend therapy sessions. During these sittings, it’s okay to fully express yourself about your loss. You may also inquire about any queries you could be having. For instance, you could ask, can grief make you sick? How long does it usually take to heal? Can medications help?

Therapists are trained professionals, and they often allow patients to explore, express, and process all confusing or distressing feelings connected to their loss.

They also offer proper guidance to enable a safe healing process. Apart from therapy, grief patients are often advised that help from friends, family members, or support groups could also help ensure proper healing.

Seeking assistance for grief is quite essential. If left untreated, the condition could severely affect one’s health.  It could affect you by causing migraines, chest pains, heart problems, fatigue, and digestive issues. It might also impact a person’s quality of life by giving rise to anxiety, paranoia, or suicidal thoughts.

Even though there may not be a standard medication for grief, specialists might recommend prescription drugs in some cases. For instance, if a person is experiencing insomnia, sleeping aids may be advised. If a patient has become severely uneasy or nervous due to grief, anti-anxiety medication may also be recommended.


Depression is often described as a mental disorder that severely and persistently affects one’s mood. As opposed to grief, depression is often considered clinical, recurrent, and sometimes long-term.

This condition can be brought by traumatic experiences, major life changes, disputes, drug and alcohol abuse, grief, and some illnesses like cancer and diabetes.

  • Symptoms of Depression

Depression can affect any individual, no matter their gender or age. It also causes a deterioration in one’s health and quality of life. Common signs of this condition may be:

  • Feelings of hopelessness, emptiness, and worthlessness.
  • Excessive or little sleep
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Restlessness
  • Agitation
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Moving sluggishly
  • Indecisiveness

If you have these signs, it’s advisable to get a doctor’s diagnosis to help you identify if you’re suffering from depression. This is quite essential because it’s the first step to healing. A doctor or mental health professional could help with this.

  • Treatment for Depression

Depression is treatable, but as mentioned, you first have to get a diagnosis to ensure that you’re suffering from this condition. Both grief and depression share some similar symptoms. Identifying what exactly your illness may be, could help ensure better healing.

If a doctor identifies that you’re suffering from depression, they might recommend therapy for treatment. Alternatively, they could also prescribe antidepressants that might help balance neurotransmitters in the brain like serotonin and dopamine.  These are hormones that often affect your mood. On the other hand, they could recommend natural remedies to treat your condition. In this case, they might ask you to get enough sleep, exercise, eat healthier meals and seek support from loved ones.

Closing Thoughts

As you’ve learned in this article, many patients might find it hard to tell whether they’re suffering from grief or depression. This is mainly because the two conditions have some signs that are quite alike. If you’re in this situation, talking to a doctor or a mental health specialist about your symptoms is essential.

These professionals will offer a diagnosis to help you identify which of the two conditions you might be suffering from. They could also assist by creating an efficient treatment plan for you.

Since grief is natural, they’ll advise you the stages you’re going through are expected, and they’ll eventually lead to healing. However, they might also suggest seeking support from loved ones or grief groups to help you cope with your loss.

In contrast, depression is usually considered an illness. It can be long-term and recurrent, but it’s also treatable. To help you heal, your doctor might recommend medications, therapy, or natural remedies.

Image credit – @Getty

READ THIS NEXT: 20 Movies About Depression That Offer A Fresh Perspective In Life