When Does Grief Become Depression?


After a loved one in Los Angeles hospice care has passed away, feelings of grief and sadness are natural. When feelings of hopelessness manifest due to the loss, many will be inclined to describe their mood as depressed. However, the word “depression” can be thrown around quite frequently these days, to the point where you may not be sure if your grief is “normal” or has turned into a legitimate mental health issue. Although they have similar symptoms, depression and grief are two different experiences. Knowing the difference between the two is crucial for figuring out the best course of treatment for your symptoms. 

Signs of depression include:

  • Lack of interest in usual activities.

Anhedonia, the loss of interest or pleasure in once-enjoyed activities, is one of the main symptoms of severe depressive disorder. You may also feel inclined to withdraw from any social activities you once were part of. 

  • Difficulty concentrating.

It’s normal to frequently remember the hospice patient who has recently passed, but having trouble focusing and making decisions following the loss can severely impact your professional and personal life moving forward. These are symptoms shared by both major depressive disorder and persistent depressive disorder. People who are depressed may identify this in themselves, or others may observe that they are having difficulty thinking coherently. 

  • Changes in appetite.

A change in how much you eat is another typical indicator of depression, and it can result in a decrease in appetite for some people. You may have to force yourself to eat because it is no longer enjoyable, and you may also lack the energy to prepare your meals. Conversely, overeating can sometimes result from depressive feelings. You may notice that eating makes you feel better, but once the temporary high wears off, you may be prone to eating more than usual to numb your emotions.

  • Difficulty falling asleep or increased sleeping.

Up to 90% of people with depression experience sleep problems, which may manifest as excessive sleeping or difficulty falling asleep. One of the most common symptoms of depression is insomnia, which affects 80% of those with it. People with insomnia may have trouble remaining asleep or falling asleep. Depressed people report sleeping excessively, and younger people are more prone to experiencing this phenomenon. Both a cause and a symptom of depression can be sleep problems. Therefore, enhancing your sleep is crucial for making you feel better and lowering your risk of experiencing a future relapse of sadness.

  • Thoughts of suicide. 

If you are having thoughts of harming yourself, do not take this matter lightly. Please seek professional help immediately. You can call 988 to reach the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.

Different therapy programs can help you with your grief, including one-on-one sessions with a counselor or group sessions with people who have recently experienced a loss. At Faith and Hope Hospice, we offer free 1-year grief support to family members of our Los Angeles hospice care patients following their death through our bereavement and grief program. The team at Faith and Hope Hospice Care is dedicated to providing the best patient well-being. We think every Los Angeles palliative care and hospice care patient deserves a joyful and comfortable death. Our Circle of Care, which comprises quality, dignity and compassion, education, joy, and community, helps us ensure that our objectives are fulfilled. Please get in touch with our team today.