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Signs of Depression After the Loss of a Parent

by
author image Michelle Bolyn
Michelle Bolyn is a licensed mental health professional and has worked since 2006 as a therapist. Bolyn has been writing mental health, wedding-related and relationship focused articles since 2007. She is published on Suite101.com and Examiner.com. Bolyn received her master's degree in social work from New York University.
Signs of Depression After the Loss of a Parent
Distracted woman looking out window. Photo Credit Jack Hollingsworth/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Overview

Losing a parent, no matter your age, can be heartbreaking, traumatizing and overwhelming. Everyone deals with the loss of a loved one differently and experiences different emotions. At one moment a person who has lost a parent might be angry and irritable, and the next moment be sobbing and sad. It’s normal to experience symptoms of depression directly after a loss; however, if it lingers and begins to affect a person socially and occupationally, the person might be suffering from depression.

Occupational Symptoms

An adult who loses a parent may need to take a couple weeks off of work, and children may need to take a couple weeks off of school to deal with the emotions. However, if the person incapable of returning to work or finishing work-related projects on time, he might be suffering from depression. If a child refuses to go to school and has a significant drop in her grades, she might be depressed.

Social Symptoms

Depression affects adults and children socially. Many times, someone suffering from depression will isolate himself, not return phone calls from friends and family members and be too exhausted to maintain healthy relationships. If someone loses a parent, he might put other relationships on hold for a couple weeks, and that’s normal. However, if after a month, he still doesn’t attempt to spend time with friends and family, he could be suffering from depression.

Mood

Children and adults display sadness, irritability and anger when depressed. All of these feelings are normal for someone to experience after losing a loved one. If overwhelming feelings of sadness or irritability remain after a few weeks, seeking therapy might be a good option. Each person takes different amounts of time to recover after a significant loss, and it’s not uncommon to become depressed after losing a parent. However, if you suffer from depression because of loss, you should take the same steps that you would take if you were depressed because of another issue. Talk to a therapist or your doctor.

Issues Eating and Sleeping

People suffering from depression have problems sleeping. They might not be able to fall asleep or stay asleep after they’ve fallen asleep. They might sleep too much and refuse to get out of bed. People who are depressed also gain or lose significant amounts of weight because of undereating or overeating. Again, it’s normal to have these issues for a few weeks after the loss of a loved one. But if these issues persist more than a few weeks and impact a person’s relationship and career, depression could be the cause.

Suicide

Some people who are depressed feel hopeless and have thoughts of suicide. This is the most dangerous symptom of depression. If someone has thoughts of suicide, she should immediately seek the help of a licensed mental health professional, call 911 or go to her local psychiatric emergency room. Even after a loss of a loved one, suicidal thoughts should be taken seriously and dealt with immediately.

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