Prolonged grief may signal serious depression

Prolonged grief may signal serious depression

(NewsUSA)- Each year, an estimated 800,000 Americans will experience the loss of a spouse--one of life's most stressful experiences, according to the magazine Psychiatric Times.
While the grieving process is a natural part of life, people who experience symptoms for more than two weeks may be suffering from bereavement-related depression.
Symptoms of bereavement-related depression are like any other depressive episode. They can include a sad or irritable mood, anxiety, loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, low self-esteem and changes in sleeping and eating patterns.
As is generally the case with depression, bereavement-related depression can have a significant impact on the health of the sufferer. In fact, according to a study published in the February 2006 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, the risk of death may increase by 22 percent for men and 16 percent for women following the death of a spouse.
Fortunately, bereavement-related depression can be alleviated through early identification of symptoms and treatment options including medication, psychotherapy or a combination of both.
According to a recent study that lacked a comparison group, the results of Lexapro in the treatment of depression related to bereavement is consistent with the anti-depressant effect of Lexapro.
"Without treatment, individuals who experience a major depressive episode after the loss of a loved one may develop chronic depression lasting years," said Dr. Paula Hensley, associate professor of psychiatry at the University of New Mexico.
It is important for people who may be suffering from bereavement-related depression to talk to their doctor about all of their symptoms and discuss potential treatment options.
For additional information and a confidential depression screening, visit www.depressionscreener.com