The experience of grief following the loss of a loved one shares several symptoms of major depression. However, there are some fundamental differences between depression in the context of grief and the signs of clinical depression.
San Diego, CA (PRWEB) August 10, 2013
The relationship between grief and depression following bereavement has generated much debate in the psychological community and public media. A new article by Rochelle Perper, Ph.D., “Grief, Depression and the DSM-5,” sheds new light on the subject, and can help both clinicians and the general public achieve a greater understanding of the clinical challenges and options for treating these conditions.
“The experience of grief following the loss of a loved one shares several symptoms of major depression,” says Perper. “However, there are some fundamental differences between depression in the context of grief and the signs of clinical depression. The paper is intended to help clinicians differentiate between a typical grief reaction and the clinical indicators of a major depressive episode, and assist them in identifying signs of persistent complex bereavement disorder in their future work with clients.”
The paper also addresses important changes regarding bereavement and major depression to the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM-5 manual, which serves as a universal authority for the diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric disorders. Published in May, the DSM-5 now eliminates the bereavement exclusion as part of the diagnostic criteria for a major depressive episode. This leaves the diagnosis to the clinician’s discretion when differentiating between a major depressive episode and a typical grief reaction following bereavement.
According to Perper, proponents of this change believe it will aid in diagnostic consistency and provide rapid treatment options to bereaved people who experience symptoms of major depression. Opponents argue that the literature on bereavement is limited, and that bereavement should be distinguished as a unique phenomenon until it is better understood.
“The change to the DSM-5 essentially concludes that while bereavement and major depression are separate and distinct conditions, people can grieve and be depressed at the same time,” adds Perper. “Therefore, clinicians need to carefully consider the differences between normal sadness and the clinical indicators of a major depressive episode following a loss. Furthermore, clinicians who work with bereaved individuals need to become more skilled at making such distinctions in order to recommend appropriate treatment considerations.”
About Therapy Changes
Therapy Changes is a licensed clinical psychologist practice in San Diego. The therapists at Therapy Changes focus on helping patients better navigate and manage life's difficult transitions. Services include individual therapy, play therapy, and family therapy.