Understanding depression, suicidal behaviors, grief and loss
It is normal for all of us to experience some level of sadness. Grief
and loss is also another life experience that all of us go through one
way or another. It does not always necessarily mean death; it could be a
loss of an expectation, a dream, or a perceived future; it could also be
a loss of a job, status, health, significant relationships and other
meaningful attachments in our lives. Sadness as well as grief, are both
universally experienced emotions and conditions of the hurting soul.
However, we do not really know at times, if our sadness or grief is
already bordering "clinical depression".
In the online
resource section of the counseling center website, the link to
depression offers more
comprehensive guide in understanding more about the complexities and
intricacies of depression. It is always helpful to learn that there is what we
call situational depression that most of us experience, and it is important to
be able to distinguish it from clinical depression.
Typical depressive symptoms may indicate the following:
Persistent sad, empty, or anxious mood
Loss of interest in ordinary activities, including sex
Decreased energy, fatigue, feeling slowed down
Sleep disturbances like insomnia, early morning waking, or
Eating disturbances like loss of appetite and weight, or weight gain
Difficulty concentrating, remembering, and making decisions
Feeling of guilt, worthlessness, and helplessness
Chronic physical pain and aches that don't respond to treatment
Thoughts of death or suicide, or history of suicide attempts;
Feelings of hopelessness and pessimism
If these symptoms persist on a regular daily basis with increasing intensity,
and is prolonged for more than two weeks, without help or
intervention, it begins to interfere with our daily lives. It begins to affect
the general ability to function. For students, this may mean affecting academic
performance, social and relational life, as well as general emotional well
being. This condition, if left untreated, becomes clinical depression.
Grief and loss
grief and loss online resource offers more
in depth information on understanding the stages,
coping mechanisms and interventions for grief
and loss. Most importantly, it provides good
information in understanding the complexity of a
condition also known as complicated grief
involved in clinical depression, which is different from a normal bereavement or
Distinguishing between grief and clinical depression isn’t always easy, since
they share many symptoms. However, there are ways to tell the difference.
Remember, grief is a roller coaster. It involves a wide variety of emotions and
a mix of good and bad days. Even when you’re in the middle of the grieving
process, you will have moments of pleasure or happiness. With depression, on the
other hand, the feelings of emptiness and despair are constant.
Other symptoms that may suggest depression, and not just grief:
- Intense, pervasive sense of
- Thoughts of suicide or a
preoccupation with dying.
- Feelings of hopelessness or
- Slow speech and body
- Inability to function at
work, home, and/or school.
- Seeing or hearing things
that aren’t there.
Suicidal behaviors are normally observed to be correlated to chronic and
clinical depression as well as "complicated grief". Its sheer complexity and
sensitivity as well as its critical nature require mental health professional
consultations and assessment; it may at times entail law enforcement,
legal/court, campus public safety (and at times, school administration)
intervention and involvement.
Reporting suicidal behaviors is
a link that offers more information on where to get consultation, who to consult
and examples of warning signs that can benefit from a consultation and a timely
and appropriate intervention.
When is it an appropriate time to seek professional help and
For symptoms of clinical depression: If you notice any (or all) of the above symptoms
for depression persisting for
more than a week or two, and is now starting to interfere with your ability
to function, feel free to call your physician, or the
counseling center at 360-438-4371 to consult with our
For suicidal behaviors: One very important area of concern
that requires consultations with mental health professionals involve suicidal
behaviors. Refer to the reporting
suicidal behaviors link for more details.
For grief and loss - if you recognize any of the above
symptoms of complicated grief or clinical depression, talk to a mental health
professional right away. Left untreated, complicated grief and depression can
lead to significant emotional damage, life-threatening health problems, and even
suicide. But treatment can help you get better.
Contact a grief counselor or professional therapist if you:
- Feel like life isn’t worth living
- Wish you had died with your loved one
- Blame yourself for the loss or for failing to prevent it
- Feel numb and disconnected from others for more than a few
- Are having difficulty trusting others since your loss
- Are unable to perform your normal daily activities
The counseling center will assist in finding referrals in the community that
will better address your needs.
The counseling center is dedicated in continuing to provide educational
materials that we hope will serve as additional help and benefit to you. Your emotional well-being as
well as your academic success are of utmost importance to us!