Some doctors now believe that extreme grief due to the loss of a loved one should be medically classified and treated like any other form of depression. Others argue that grief is a natural (and sometimes, necessary) human emotion and it should not be categorized as an ailment that needs to be corrected by "Happy Pills." I don't know whether grief is a "disorder." I am inclined to say "no." I don't think that our brains, and therefore our lives, are meant to be relentlessly cheerful. I suspect that in the absence of "negative" emotions such as sadness, fear or anger, we would also be lacking in beneficial qualities like empathy and survival skills. We all cope with life's ups and downs in our own ways. Throughout the world social rites and religious rituals are designed to help survivors deal with suffering due to bereavement. Despite that the loss of a loved one affects different people with vastly different levels of trauma; some come to terms with it requiring no third party intervention while others may need prolonged periods of solace, and even professional counseling. Surely, a grieving person is depressed. The question however is whether such depression requires medication and if so, what carefully considered criteria ought to be in place regarding the duration of the condition and the severity of the debilitation.
Grieving the loss of a friend, family or loved one may soon be considered a form of depression. While many doctors acknowledge that grief is a very normal part of losing someone close to us, they also acknowledge that it’s important to deal with that grief.
Speaking to the New York Times one doctor explains why turning grief into a depression diagnosis could end up hurting those people suffering from some for of grief.
“This would pathologize them for behavior previously thought to be normal.” says one doctor.
Opponents to the diagnosis also say to could lead many people with short term grief receiving drug treatments that would normally be unnecessary outside of depression symptoms.
I asked my co-bloggers to weigh in with their opinions on the matter. Unsurprisingly, their responses fall on both sides of the argument.