Dealing with Grief: Major Depression

When a loved one dies after a battle with mesothelioma or another form of cancer, it’s normal for his or her friends and family members to feel sadness, pain, and anger. Even sudden bouts of crying are a normal reaction to the death of a loved one. But how do you know if a person you care about is experiencing abnormal grief responses, or falling into a deep, major depression?

Roughly 1 in 5 people will develop major or clinical depression after the loss of a loved one. Some people are at a particularly high risk for grief-induced depression, such as people who have had issues with drugs or alcohol, people with a history of depression, people who have other major stresses in their lives, and people without a strong support network. Major depression can be treated very effectively with therapy and medications, but in many cases a depressed person needs to be prompted to seek this type of help. Learn about the symptoms of major or clinical depression so that you can recognize them in loved ones who are grieving and help them get the help they need.

Symptoms of Depression

  • Extreme weight loss
  • Inability to perform routine daily activities such as bathing or getting dressed
  • Persistent thoughts of hopelessness or worthlessness
  • Intense feelings of guilt
  • Delusions (beliefs that are not true)
  • Frequent hallucinations
  • Ongoing thoughts of death or killing oneself
  • Slowed reaction times and/or body responses

What You Can Do

If you notice one or more of the above symptoms in someone you love, and if the symptoms persist for more than 2 months after his or her loss, this person may be suffering from major, clinical depression. Make sure that person knows that you are there to offer support during this difficult time, and encourage him or her to seek professional help. If the person in question talks about hurting or killing him or herself, seek immediate help.

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