No one can imagine how it feels losing your loved one forever, unless it has happened to them too. Someone who you always looked up to and shared every important moment of your life with, who was with you through every life changing event, whether it was sad moment or happy one. And suddenly the loss of that person makes your life seem empty. This sudden loss triggers intense feelings of grief and sometimes it could lead to depression.
Britain’s 32-year-old Prince Harry, in a recent interview to a British newspaper had revealed that he sought counselling four years ago to deal with the grief of losing his mother, Diana Spencer, when he was 12 years of age. He ignored the fact for 20 years and finally sought medical help at the age of 28. Now he along with his elder brother, Prince William and his wife Catherine are campaigning to spread awareness about mental illness and to end the stigma associated with it.
“When there is death in the family or in your friend circle, it is quite expected to feel grief or sadness after a loss. But major depressive disorder, or depression, is a condition that causes prolonged feelings of sadness that can impact a person’s ability to perform daily activities,” said Dr Sanjay Kumawat, former deputy director and superintendent of mental hospital, Thane.
“Grief can be a trigger for major depressive disorder, but not everyone who grieves will experience severe depression. In such cases 15 to 20 per cent of people attempt to suicide. Whether you experience depression or grief, there are many approaches that can help you heal with time,” added Kumawat.
Dr Harish Shetty, Senior Psychiatrist at Dr LH Hiranandani Hospital, Mumbai said, “Grief is normal, expected set of emotions that can occur after the loss of a loved one. However, some people experience a more significant and longer-lasting level of grief. It can also lead to depression or worsen depression in someone who already experiences it”.
Explaining the difference between grief and depression he said “There is difference between grief and depression. Some people may have symptoms which are similar to depression, like withdrawal from social activity or/and intense sadness. However, there are very significant differences between depression and grief. Such as those who experience major depression. They often say they feel worthless or even that they hate themselves,” said Shetty.
Shetty receives 6 to 10 cases on monthly basis who suffer depression after death in their family.
Dr Sagar Karia, Joint Secretary of Bombay Psychiatric Society said, “Its prevalence can be common, roughly we see one case in 10 to 15 days. And it is mostly missed as grief reaction. But the symptoms are actually more, causing socio occupational impairment. If they are severe, they begin to affect work; sleep occasionally, suicidal ideas or thoughts need to be treated with medicines”.
Sharing an instance of a case he came across he says, “There was this 24-year-old female, who came to us with symptoms like disturbed sleep, dreams of her mother, hearing voices of mother talking etc. A month back she had lost her mother and she was very attached to her. She felt hopeless, worried about her future. But treatment with medicines helped her and now she is doing fine. Hence, identifying the symptoms to get the medical help at the earliest is very important”.
“The death of loved one is not the end of your life; try to find a way out. Do not seclude yourself from everything, because this could make you turn to drugs or alcohol. Talk, share, and keep your mind occupied doing something productive. Live your life, like your living twice on behalf of the dearest person who is not in this world,” said Kumawat.