Depression and Anxiety: 10 Signs It’s Actually Grief
Have you ever wondered if your depression and anxiety are just that, or something bigger?
A lot of us suffer from depression, anxiety, or both and we are looking for answers as to WHY we feel this way.
In many cases our depression and anxiety are even misdiagnosed…
Grief can often be the foundation for our depression and anxiety, and the process to overcome grief is drastically different.
So, how can you tell?
Here are 10 signs that you may be suffering from grief
#1 You’ve experienced a loss (typically within the past 1-2 years)
If you have recently experienced a loss, this is the number one sign that you could be suffering from grief. There is a general guideline that you typically don’t experience grief longer than a year or two. (Obviously that was not the case for me, so know that everyone is different.)
There are no rules or guidelines to the type of loss. You could have moved, started a new school, ended an addiction, gotten a divorce, or experienced a death of someone you loved. Honestly, there are too many types of losses to count.
Grief weighs you down… Due to whatever loss you’re experiencing, it makes it hard to get through the day and accomplish simple tasks like grocery shopping and laundry.
#2 You have a hard time accepting major life changes
Losses and major life changes are extremely similar. When you accept major life changes, you’re able to move forward and feel optimistic about your future. When you don’t accept major life changes, you remain in denial and wish for the way things were before the change.
This causes you to live in the past and consistently wish things were the way they used to be. You’re never present in the moment, and you don’t realize you’re missing out on new experiences.
#3 You feel more emotions than depression and anxiety are typically associated with
Both grief, depression, and anxiety cause you to feel emotions more intensely. There are definitely different levels of severity that come with depression and anxiety, but in general, when you’re depressed and/or anxious you typically aren’t interested in things, you feel down and hopeless, maybe even empty and apathetic, and you sometimes feel nervous and might panic at times.
These emotions are also emotions felt in grief, but there are also a lot more emotions that grievers experience. With grief you can feel lost, lonely, heartbreak, anger, fear, guilt, isolation, bitter, uncertain, disorganized, regret, confusion, numbness, disbelief, and more.
It’s also likely that with grief, compared to depression and anxiety, is that you can feel them all at once and feel them consistently. There aren’t really good days and bad days… they are just unbearable days.
#4 You’re consistently numb and apathetic to most things
When the emotions of grief are too much to bear, you simply become numb. You can’t feel anything and you are in a heavy fog that you can’t get out of. You don’t laugh or enjoy things that you used to. You go through the motions of your day to day living (if you can), but you don’t care what happens at any point in time.
You also tend to forget things when you’re in this state because you aren’t allowing yourself to experience the world around you.
#5 You obsess over a loss or event and can’t stop thinking about it
This is another huge sign that you are grieving. When you experience a loss or a huge life change event, you keep thinking about it. It’s like a bad movie on replay in your mind. You just keep revisiting it over, and over, and over, and over again and you can’t stop it. It completely consumes you.
#6 You’re afraid of what will happen next
Once you’re life has been flipped upside down because of your grief, you’re in a constant state of worry.
If someone died, you continue to wonder…
When will it happen?
How will it happen?
If you’ve been recently divorced, you continue to wonder…
Will I ever find love again?
Will he/she ever forgive me?
Who’s going to break my heart next?
You get stuck in this state of fear that paralyzes you from experiencing life. You build your emotional walls and you don’t let anyone in because you’re afraid that they will judge you, or that you’ll lose them. You convince yourself that you’re better off alone.
#7 You get irritated and frustrated easily
Because you’re mind is so preoccupied with your loss or life change, you have no brain power to process anything else. You become easily frustrated and irritated at the smallest things and react more aggressively than you usually would.
You’ll also tend to stew on the things that irritated you, making your frustration last longer than it would have normally. You think to yourself things like, “Don’t they know what I’m going through?!? Why are they doing this to me?”
Instead of owning up to your feelings that were there well before the irritation, you blame whatever caused the irritation and frustration for all of your emotions.
#8 You frequently experience physical pain
Sometimes physical pain is experienced with depression and anxiety. Fibromyalgia is more commonly diagnosed than it used to be and it’s commonly treated with antidepressants.
With grief, the physical pain is slightly different. It’s a whole body experience. Sometimes it’s a general heaviness with constant body aches and pain relievers or antidepressants don’t help. Sometimes it’s a shortness of breath with chest pain so severe that you might think you’re having a heart attack.
You may or may not recognize heightened emotions that come along with the pain.
#9 You’re on medication and it doesn’t help
Maybe you’ve been diagnosed with depression or anxiety and have been prescribed antidepressants or anti-anxiety medication. If over time you are still suffering, it’s possible that grief might be the reason. There isn’t a medication that helps grievers. There’s not a magic wand that makes the pain of loss or a major life change go away.
#10 You are suffering from a complete loss of identity
This is especially true for people who have experienced a loss due to death. When someone close to you dies that was present in your daily routine, how to you move forward? How can you possibly live without this person who has been by your side and supported you?
Similarly, if you’ve moved to a new neighborhood, you are losing out on many relationships that may have been part of your normal routine. You can’t talk to your neighbor everyday after work. You have to try and make new friends.
You don’t know how to be you anymore after a loss or major life change.
Do you think you’re suffering from grief?
I’d love to help you navigate your grief journey.