Depression and Grief
Depression is one of those technical words that have taken on a common meaning. It is often used to describe a variety of low moods that people struggle with, including sadness, lack of energy, grief, suicidal thinking and others. It also still has its technical definition that allows a medical diagnosis for some people. No matter where your low mood is relative to others, diagnosable or not, it can be discouraging and can make accomplishing things difficult. People often report sleeping more, sleeping difficulties, no interest in life or activities, crying for little or no reason and simply less happiness or joy in life.
Frequently, these low moods are preceded by stressful times that have created some level of anxiety. In these situations, the low mood is a response to stress. In other cases, however, the low mood can appear spontaneously or in response to discouraging circumstances.
Grief is a special type of low mood that appears in many ways like depression, but, has been triggered by a significant loss. Most typically the loss is the death a person you are very close to. However, other losses that have a similar effect on a person can also cause a grief reaction. These can include the death of a pet, losing one’s job and the destruction of personal property.
When I work with people dealing with a low mood, I begin by getting a clear understanding of how the low mood is affecting their life right now. The history of the low mood and how it came into their lives are also useful to explore. Additionally, it is important to look at how low mood goes up and down and what activities, thoughts and behaviours have an impact on it. Often, discouragement and negativity are also contributing to the problem and challenging them can help alleviate the low mood. I use Narrative Therapy for most of these processes as well as CBT concepts to challenge various aspects of the low mood. Narrative Therapy is also valuable for recalling reasons for seeing the good aspects of oneself and life in general.