Grief & Depression – What’s the Difference?

April 13th, 2010

depressionGrief is depression in proportion to circumstance; depression is grief out of proportion to circumstance.  So saysAndrew Solomon, the author “The Noonday Demon” (Scribner, 2001).  Mr. Solomon then proceeds to detail his often devastating experiences with major depression.

As a psychotherapist, I’m grateful to Mr. Solomon for this understanding of depression.  Clients who are grieving a loss often wonder if they’ve entered into depression.  There’s no clear line that someone crosses.  In fact, to become clinically depressed, a person doesn’t even have to experience a loss – sometimes Mr. Solomon’s “Noonday Demon” just arrives.

Anyone who’s struggled with depression or grief can attest to their power.  They can alter our thoughts, actions, ability to feel joy…even our experiences of authentic sadness can be affected.  Sorting this out can become imperative.  Each person has a different need.  The woman who lost a mother to cancer might need a place to cry, especially when she feels like everyone else has moved on.  The man with major depression might need a therapist for support and encouragement in making it through the week, maintaining his medications, and in simply sticking with life.

If you’re living with depression or grief, consider talking with a therapist.  We can help.  In fact, studies suggest that therapy combined with medications is more effective than either on their own.  You might find that it is time well spent.

If you’re looking for grief counseling or help with depression, call 202/460-6384 or email me at

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