Grief Might be Included in the DSM as Part of Depression

Grief Might be Included in the DSM as Part of Depression

A recent report recommended that those who are grieving be classified as depressed patients. The upshot if this idea is implemented is that more people would end up being treated for depression.

Which doesn’t fly all that well with certain people.

There are those, most of whom have never been depressed a single fricking day in their entire lives, who believe that the there are way too many prescriptions being doled out for anti-depressants. I don’t know if the population at large is confusing anti-depressants with other medications, but in many cases, anti-depressants work.

There are side effects for anti-depressants which include sleep disorders and lack of sexual function. But the side effects of depression can also include a loss of interest in sex and trouble sleeping. Other side effects of depression include: low feelings of self-worth, an inability to concentrate, and a serious loss of interest in activities.

If anti-depressants can help people who are in the process of grieving, what’s the harm?  (As long as they don’t have other diagnoses, like bipolar disorder, which makes prescribing anti-depressants more difficult.)

A friend of mine was talking about the death of her mom, which she said was the hardest time during her life; I asked her whether or not she had taken any anti-depressants for her sadness and depression. She seemed indignant when I asked the question and said that the grieving process wouldn’t have been helped by anti-depressants because she was depressed because of her mom’s death.

That’s fair enough. I’m not sure whether the medication would have helped her or not, but medication should at least be an option for people who are seriously depressed for whatever reason, especially because of the loss of a loved one. The consequences of severe depression are too serious to be ignored.

Pyschology Today has an in-depth analysis on the ramifications of changing the DSM 5 to include grief as part of depression in cases of severe grief that lasts beyond the ordinary amount of time. The author, Dr. Allen Francis, is concerned that if grief is included in depression that there would be too many false-positives in the system.

He cites an article by Pies and Ziskind in which the authors give a way for the DSM 5 to add criteria which would ensure that only grievers who were at risk for serious consequences would be included.