Grief-Stricken May Be Diagnosed with Depression

The American Psychiatric Association (APA), is considering revising the current definition of depression to include bereavement, the usual grieving after the loss of a loved one. With this change, the organization would characterize “grief” as a mental illness. Opponents argue that the change leaves room for  “unnecessary treatment” of grieving individuals. Including the drugs that can lead to health problems.

But experts who support the new definition say that sometimes grieving people need help coping with bereavement. After the loss of a loved one, depression can be severe and debilitating, requiring professional intervention and medical attention.

The current definition for depression requires a patient exhibit five of nine symptoms, including trouble sleeping, a feeling of hopelessness, for at least two weeks. The current criteria also make an exception for “normal grieving.”

According to Jerome C. Wakefield of New York University: “An estimated 8 to 10 million people lose a loved one every year, and something like a third to a half of them suffer depressive symptoms for up to month afterward,” said Dr. Wakefield, author of “The Loss of Sadness.” “This would pathologize them for behavior previously thought to be normal.”

Despite some fears that people may be labeled as mentally-ill unnecessarily, members of the APA task force stand by their decision to revise the definition. They claim that any patient in distress and seeking help ought to have access to treatment that is covered by insurance.

David J. Kupfer, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and the chairman of the task force making revisions, says in the article, “If someone is suffering from severe depression symptoms one or two months after a loss or a death, and I can’t make a diagnosis of depression — well, that is not being clinically proactive. That person may then not get the treatment they need.”

Finding Support

Sometimes in times of grief and heart-break, a listening ear and a shoulder to lean on can make a big difference in your mental health. If you’re looking for a bereavement support group in Hampton Roads, Bon Secours Hampton Roads offers a variety of monthly meetings on the southside and the peninsula. In addition to bereavement support groups, there are special monthly meetings for kids (Kidz-N-Grief) who are struggling with grief and family members coping with perinatal loss.

Bereavement

Newport News
1st & 3rd Thursdays, 5:30-7:00 PM
Bon Secours Mary Immaculate Hospital
2 Bernardine Dr., Newport News, VA 23602
For more information: (757) 391-6017

4th Thursday, 7:00-8:30 PM
Every 2nd Thursday, 7 – 8:30 PM
Bon Secours Mary Immaculate Hospital
Mary Immaculate Hospital Heart Center Waiting Room
2 Bernardine Dr., Newport News, VA 23602
For more information: Chaplain Charles Chappell at (757) 886-6934

Portsmouth
1st & 3rd Wednesdays, 3:00-4:30 PM
Westhaven Baptist Church
4900 Caroline Ave, Portsmouth, VA 23707
For more information: (757) 391-6017

Kidz-N-Grief

Newport News
2nd and 4th Monday, 6 PM
Bon Secours Mary Immaculate Hospital, Health Resource Center
2 Bernardine Dr., Newport News, VA 23602
For more information: (757) 737-2287

Perinatal Loss

Newport News
2nd Thursday, 7 – 8:30 PM
Bon Secours Mary Immaculate Hospital
Mary Immaculate Hospital Heart Center Waiting Room
2 Bernardine Dr., Newport News, VA 23602
For more information: Bonnie Eason at (757) 886-6042

Suffolk
3rd Thursday, 7 PM
Harbour View Medical Arts Building
5838 Harbour View Blvd., Suite 260
Suffolk, VA 23435
For more information: (757) 889-2273

+ Learn about other support groups near you in Hampton Roads!

Source: NYTimes, “Depression Could Join List of Disorders”

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