Q. My husband died a year ago and I find myself crying a lot lately. I think it is grief, but my kids are worried that I might be depressed. What is the difference?
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, if it 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.
Depression red flags include:
Abandoning or losing interest in hobbies or other pleasurable pastimes.
Social withdrawal and isolation (reluctance to be with friends, engage in activities or leave home).
Weight loss; loss of appetite.
Sleep disturbances (difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, oversleeping, or daytime sleepiness).
Loss of self-worth (worries about being a burden, feelings of worthlessness, self-loathing).
Increased use of alcohol or other drugs.
Fixation on death; suicidal thoughts or attempts.