Grief Reaction and Depression

Recent tragic events in USA have caused immense grief and sadness, in addition to anger, in the hearts and minds of many people all over the globe. However, the immediate witness to the ghastly tragedy, and those who have lost their immediate kith and kin are affected most and in a special way. They are passing through grief reaction, which might turn into mental depression. A brief outline about grief reaction and depression is given below, which might prove beneficial to a few.

Grief Reaction

Grief reaction is normal and natural consequence of personal or collective loss. The loss may be related to death (or severe trauma, illness) of near and dear ones; loss of money; failure to achieve the desired goal, non-fulfillment of ambition, etc. Grief manifests as sadness, weeping or crying, and lack of interest in routine activities, which the person was enthusiastically pursuing before the event or loss. With sadness comes fear; fear that the tragic and untoward event or incidence might recur. Thus, grief gradually becomes an internalized reaction to apprehension and imaginary insecurity about future. Grief is a natural reaction that might last up to 12 weeks or less depending upon the severity and scale of the tragic event.


However, if such grief reaction persists beyond three months it is called depression. The word depression is medical term meaning 'prolonged and pathological grief reaction' to a real or imagined tragic event or loss. Grief mostly requires reassurance from friends and counseling by family physician with occasional small dose of anxiolytic medication. Additionally practical suggestions may be offered to overcome it by looking at the tragedy or loss as a fact of life. But depression requires medications, antidepressants, and psychiatric consultation for its cure. As this depression is reactive in nature, i.e. depression has come upon the mind as a result of loss and tragedy, the chances for full cure are very good.


Here I would like to talk about additional support to overcome grief and depression. Most of us identify ourselves with body-mind complex. This identification with our body and mind causes more hurt, grief, and depression. To come out of grief, one may take help of the truth about our real nature. We are not body or the mind; our true nature is in fact Divine Consciousness, separate and distinct from the matter. This statement is not a figment of imagination meant just to reassure the affected person, it is a fact based on the experiences of Seers of Truth of the Upanishads.

Thus, by constantly reminding ourselves of our true nature, which is Divinity, we may be able to overcome our attachment and false identification with the body and mind. Then the severity and intensity of grief and depression become less, and are more amenable to treatment and psychotherapy. My affected brothers and sisters may try this, and I hope and am sure their grief would lessen. Additionally, my sincere prayers are always with them.   


More by :  Dr. C.S. Shah

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