Stages of Depression Can Mirror the Stages of Bereavement

The stages of depression and the stages of bereavement are sometimes very similar.  This is particularly true when the cause of the depression is a major loss to a man, woman, or child.  In fact, with such a reactive depression one could argue that the depression IS the mourning of a serious loss.  The stages of depression not only mirror the stages of bereavement they are the stages of bereavement.   Often times this grieving aspect of depression is overlooked by friends and family because the loss is something unseen by others:  the loss of future dream, the loss of hope, a miscarriage, the empty nest, or the loss of personal power.

The stages of depression include onset when the dimensions of a loss are sinking in.  This stage can be followed by desperate bewilderment about the way symptoms of depression are hindering and dampening life.  Often the third stage is when a person realizes that the depression itself is a huge overwhelming problem.  At this stage people often decide to seek change and/or they become suicidal, abuse substances, or retreat from life altogether.  The common theme running through all these responses to depression is a desperate attempt to break out of the misery that a person feels trapped in.

Assuming a person makes good choice for treatment, the next stage involves short term symptom relief.  This is followed by a time in therapy in which deeper understanding is sought, “How did I get to that dark place?”  “Are there deeper changes that I need to make in my life so that I won’t go there again?”  The last of the stages of depression is resuming normal living in terms of engaging with people, being energized by new and more realistic dreams for the future and enjoying the depth of self awareness gained in therapy.  These stages of depression are not researched-based.  Rather, they come from my years of tracking people as they go through the stages of depression.

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