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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    How to prevent grief from turning into depression?

    I became severely depressed after each of my break-ups and the loss of my grandmother. How can I prevent grief/loss of a loved one from turning into depression? I know it is normal to grieve but it's not healthy for me to become this depressed.
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  • 1


    Dr Clive Jones

    Counselling Psychologist, Counsellor, Psychologist, Psychotherapist, Sport Psychologist

    Dr Clive Jones is a registered psychologist specialising in the assessment and treatment of mental health issues and disorders and High Performance Sport psychology. He … View Profile

    Emotion is such a subjective thing.

    Knowing how much depression is too much when grieving is relative to the significance of the loss and the circumstances in which the loss has occurred. The more significant the loss, then generally the more intense the depression will be within the grief. The more traumatic and sudden the circumstances of the loss then also it would generally be expected that the more intense the depression within the grief will be.

    So in times of very significant loss within very trying circumstance the more intense the grief and accompanying emotions, including depression, will be.

    An unhealthy or complicated grief response with intently long term debilitating emotion needs to be addressed first and foremost by talking with someone. If you are concerned about the intensity of your emotional reaction, that someone should be a trained professional.
     Engaging and connecting and sharing with someone about the loss and its significance is generally a good first step. This can then lead on to other key treatment approaches depending on how the condition presents when talking it through with the psychologist.

    This is a brief overview of initial thoughts. Please feel free to email if you would like a little more detail.

  • I have been working in Eltham, Melbourne as a relationship and family counsellor for over twelve years. I draw on current theory and research about … View Profile

    It sounds like you are aware of the difference between grief and depression - grief can be very intense and difficult to manage, but is a normal process in response to loss. Depression, on the other hand, is a medical condition that needs treatment by your GP and/or a psychologist, who will give you psychological strategies to manage the symptoms.

    Many of us can become impatient with the length of time it may take to ‘get over’ the loss of someone close, especially when that person was significant to us. It's important to allow yourself to take time to grieve, and to reach out for the support you need to get through it.

    You may also be grappling with what is activated for you when you break up with someone, or lose someone close. Counselling can help you work out what is going on - what does it mean for you that you have lost that person? It may be that you are worried that you will be all alone and not able to manage by yourself as you get older. Break-ups can result in fears that we are not loveable, or that the future we wished for (partner, kids…) may not be possible.

    Counselling can assist you to identify what issues are there for you, and to work them through.

  • My research interests include immunology and the mechanisms of amyloid formation. The latter has implications for people who are dealing with Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's Disease … View Profile

    I think that Clive and Vivienne have both offered you excellent advice.

    As far as grieving for your grandmother is concerned, please remember that grieving follows its own path and takes its own time - whatever feels right for you is the *only* thing that matters.

    With care.

  • Bruce Jenkins

    Psychologist, Psychotherapist

    ABOUT BRUCE Registered psychologist since 1991 Broadly Humanistic approach with special interest in Person Centred therapy Over sixteen years experience as a supervisor Taught Counselling … View Profile

    I want to endorse Clive Jones' answer (above).

    Grief and loss are a central part of life… but often discuss way less than needed. One of the most effective ways to avoid stuck, complicated grief and possible depression is to find a safe, trustworthy, skilled therapist.

    Best wishes with this journey.

  • Marcia Costello

    Clinical Psychologist, Psychologist

    I am a Clinical Psychologist with over 25 years experience in working with adults, adolescents, children, couples and families. I work by meeting you where … View Profile

    I am sorry to hear that you have experienced so many losses. I agree that grief is a normal process when you loose someone in your life, but some people may still need professional support if they experience symptoms which are debilitating, such as frequent tearfulness at unhelpful times, irritability, rumination about the past contact and relationship connections. If these symptoms impact on your capacity to cope at work or in your relationships it is probably time to see your GP to assess this and engage a professional, such as a psychologist or counsellor. Your GP can help deciide whether the symptoms are in a pattern and severe enough to be considered depression. Typically grief is more like a flowing river and progresses and resolves in ebbs and flows.
    Depression may occur when this energy or reactions are blocked in some way. You may need medication and therapy if Depression is present. I am also alerted in your responses to an intense reaction to relationship losses. I wonder if you have abandonment reminders when you loose relationships. If this is present you may require some more intensive work to cope with these abandonment experiences, such as schema therapy, narrative and trauma therapy. This can be very effective to resolve these experiences in a short time, enabling you to form more trusting and supportive relationships with others, which can help you to heal at a time of loss.
    Marcia Costello
    Clinical Psychologist

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