After giving birth, some mothers may fall into a period of postpartum depression resulting from a change of body chemistry caused by birth. Though there are significant differences between birth and death, understand that there can be a bout of depression following the loss of a loved one. It is important to be aware of this potential health care issue.
Here are some signs and signals to keep a look out for as you moving along your own journey of grief. It is also supportive to watch out for these same signs in your family and close friends who have suffered a loss. The ten or so items I mention here are by no means an inclusive list they are the more common ones.
If you have a number of these signs and they occur regularly it would be a good idea to make a visit to your family doctor or therapist and get some professional advice and an informed opinion.
1) Sleep You are sleeping more than normal and have trouble getting out of bed or you are not sleeping much at all and are getting fatigued.
2) Aches, pains and illness You may find your body is more achy and painful than usual. You may be having more colds or illnesses than you normally do.
3) Excessive use of drugs or alcohol In order to get some relief from your feelings, or in order to hid your deeper emotions you may resort to the excessive use of alcohol that is very common with people suffering from depression. You may choose illicit or prescription drugs to help numb the emotions that so often accompany grief.
4) Weight change You may find that your weight drops noticeably as your appetite vanishes or you may use food to suppress your feelings and emotions and gain a noticeable amount of weight.
5) Work You could find that you are regularly absent from work or late, you might also notice you are not as productive as you were before the loss. You may have trouble concentrating. The opposite is also possible, over working and over achieving as a way to keep you busy and distracted.
6) General lack of motivation You may notice that you just are not motivated to do anything, even hobbies that you once loved. It might even show up in a lack of sex drive or no sexual appetite at all.
7) Anxiousness You may experience a level of anxiousness you haven’t experienced before. This anxiousness may not have a basis to it and may even turn into a type of panic.
8)Emotions You may have a low-grade sense of irritability and edginess that from time to time shows up as anger. Anger is often an outward sign of fear or hurt.
9) Thoughts of death or suicide You could experiences thoughts of taking your own life and become preoccupied with thoughts of death, both yours, and others.
I was once asked what the opposite of depression was. I had to ponder it deeply and avoid my initial reaction to blurt out the word joy. As I looked at the question more fully it came to me that the opposite of depression is expression.
Some of us who are depressed often times feel flat, lifeless, and dead in a way. When we look more deeply we notice a caldron of emotions lying just underneath the surface of our flatness. Sometimes dropping into the sea of emotions and expressing them can be a healing and also freeing event – an event that may also help lift the depression.