Depression After The Death of a Loved One


When a loved one dies, the loss is often profound and the grief enduring.  But over time, the grief generally subsides and life moves forward.  For some people, however, grief becomes a lingering and serious period of depression.  Grief is different for each person and the depth of pain and length of time until it ebbs is hard to calculate.  It may come in waves; it may be difficult to handle everyday tasks or work.  For some people, keeping busy helps, for others, some time alone may help.  Some need professional help to get through it.

Stages of Grief

It’s generally agreed that grieving goes through several stages before we come out on the other side, although how many stages varies.  This is the process:

Denial and numbness.  This may last a few hours to a few days.  It’s a feeling of disbelief that your loved one is gone, as if you just need to wake up from a terrible dream.  It’s a defense mechanism that protects you from the shock of the blow.

Anger.  This anger may be at our loved one for dying and leaving us.  It could be anger at ourselves for something we did, anger at medical professionals who didn’t save your loved one, or anger at the world because of the unfairness of your loss.

Bargaining.  This includes trying to figure out what could’ve been done differently.  “If only he’d seen a doctor”, etc., retracing your steps to find a reason for it all.  It may be speaking to a higher power to bargain for a different outcome.  It’s another defense mechanism to keep from facing the difficult reality of the situation.

Depression.  This can generally last a few weeks to a year and can include typical symptoms of depression like deep sadness, poor appetite, sleep difficulties, and lack of interest and motivation.

Acceptance and recovery.  This often begins after about 4 months but some people, especially those who lost their loved one unexpectedly, may never reach this stage.  For those who do, they begin to accept the loss and life begins to get back to normal, or some version of normal.

When someone you love dies, there’s no manual that tells you what to do next.  People are not robots and many people follow their own journey when dealing with the loss of someone they love.  The intense sorrow can be prolonged.  They may blame themselves for the death, feel crippling regret for words left unsaid and actions left undone, and they may feel like life no longer has meaning.

Get The Support You Need

As you experience grief, it’s important to have the support you need whether it’s from friends and family or a mental health professional.  Bereavement support groups can provide great comfort and advice from other people who have experienced loss.  Be honest with yourself and your family about how you feel about the loss.  Let yourself feel the pain and work through it.  When you feel you can, begin to get back to your normal routines and life.  Healing from grief is a process that takes time.

If you feel like you’ve reached a depression that you can’t get out of, you may be experiencing Major Depressive Disorder.  MDD often has other underlying causes and can be triggered by grief.  The treatment for MDD is usually psychotherapy and anti-depressants.

However, if you suffer from Major Depressive Disorder and you can’t find an antidepressant that effectively treats your depression, there is another solution.  Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation is a non-invasive treatment for depression that uses magnetic pulses to stimulate the areas of the brain associated with depression.  It can provide safe, drug-free relief or even remission from the symptoms of depression that can be so debilitating. At GatewayTMS, we provide TMS treatments in a calming, relaxed atmosphere and are focused on your health and wellbeing.  Call GatewayTMS today at (314)909-8487 to find out if TMS is right for you.