After Kevin’s death, despite numerous people telling me to go on medication, that there was nothing wrong with going on medication, I made the decision to stay off of anti-depressants while grieving. I was already taking an anxiety medication for the attacks that had started when Kevin became ill, as well as a sleeping pill. I knew that grief had to be felt, that I had to take myself to those deep and dark lows that were required in grieving.
Nearly a year after his death, after I had gone back to school and hit the 1-year loss mark, I was having difficulty studying and staying on top of school. I sought out my doctor and together we made the decision to start on a low dose of anti-depressants to help me focus.
This morning, when I read Caleb Wilde’s recent blog, Should We Medicate Grief? I was appalled and saddened that the new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders from the American Psychiatric Association had decided to lump together grieving with depression.
I’m not disagreeing that grief feels depressing, but is it depression? Isn’t it completely normal and sane for someone to not want to get out of bed, to put themselves in remote situations, to sob uncontrollably, to have suicidal tendencies, to feel at their lowest of low, because they lost someone they loved?
When chatting with a widow friend this evening we both agreed that we felt something is lost when a grieving person chooses to immediately medicate themselves. That’s not to say that if you have depressive tendencies you shouldn’t be concerned and stay in close contact with a mental health professional, but if you’re just plain grieving, trying to suffocate that grief with medication can be destructive in the healing process.
I’m curious to know what your thoughts are. Did you medicate immediately following the loss of a loved one? Do you believe that grief should be lumped in with Psychiatrists’ diagnosis of depression?