Am I Experiencing Grief or Depression?

Am I Experiencing Grief or Depression?

How do I know if I am experiencing grief or depression?
Grief and depression often have related symptoms that can make you question whether you are dealing with “typical” grief or if it is actually depression.

First, grief is typically triggered after a loss.  There are a great variety of types of losses that can trigger grief.  These can include:

  1. death of a loved one
  2. miscarriage or stillbirth
  3. terminal illness diagnosis
  4. divorce or separation
  5. more ambiguous losses such as loss of a career, a significant change in socioeconomic status, loss of other hopes or dreams

The list of possible losses can go on and on.  The reality is that most of us will eventually experience a loss that will trigger some level of grief reaction.

In addition, some describe experiencing grief in waves.  As such, there can be periods of more stability and then being swept back into the symptoms of grief again.  As time passes, the feelings of grief commonly lessen in intensity.  This results in you feeling more easily able to function in your day to day life.

Though there are overlapping symptoms between grief and depression, depression is distinctly different.  For instance, depression symptoms can be consistent or worsen over time.  Additionally, depression symptoms can begin to greatly impact someone’s typical functioning level.  For example, they may not be able to carry out their normal duties or chores at home or work.  Finally, depression can result in feeling empty which nothing, not even happy memories, can balance out.

Below outlines some of the common symptoms or experiences involved in both grief and depression:


  1. Sadness, despair, mourning
  2. Tearfulness
  3. Fatigue or low energy
  4. Reduced appetite
  5. Poor sleep
  6. Poor concentration
  7. Both happy and sad memories
  8. Mild feelings of guilt


  1. Worthlessness
  2. Suicidal thoughts
  3. Low self-esteem
  4. Powerlessness
  5. Helplessness
  6. Agitation
  7. Less interest in pleasurable activities
  8. Extreme fatigue
  9. Exaggerated guilt

The amount of time a person grieves their loss can vary widely, so some may question whether their symptoms have evolved into more of a depression state. It can be helpful to question yourself or ask a loved one for their input in terms of whether your symptoms have begun to greatly negatively impact your ability to function as you normally do in your day to day life.  Regardless, whether you are experiencing grief or depression symptoms, it can be helpful to reach out to a counselor for guidance and treatment to help as you navigate your experience.

Finally, Wellspring Women’s Counseling is honored to help women process through their grief as well as depression symptoms.  Make an appointment today.