The Good Funeral Guide Blog

Can pills cure grief?

Thursday, 14 February 2013

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“The grieving process gets close at what it means to be human; it’s understandable that handing it over to professionals armed with pills approaches the most dangerous misuse of pharmaceuticals we can imagine.

“Whereas depression is usually constant, grief is more likely to ebb and flow in waves and it does not usually invoke the feelings of worthlessness and low self-esteem that are so characteristic of depression. Grievers long to be reunited with someone they loved; the depressed often believe that they are unlovable.”

A thoughtful piece, this, well worth a read. Find it here.

3 comments on “Can pills cure grief?

  1. Gloria Mundi

    Thursday 14th February 2013 at 6:11 pm

    Don’t despair too volubly, Jenny, or some clown might pop an anti-depressant into your gob…
    Surely anyone who has experienced, or even anyone who knows someone with, clinicaldepression understands the difference between that and “ordinary” grief. NB difference between being depressed, and suffering from an illness- clinical depression. It seems we have to keep shouting the bleedin’ obvious as loudly as we can so in these nervy, easily-muddled times of ours, we can all side-step various sorts of nonsense.

  2. Thursday 14th February 2013 at 3:30 pm

    Ok, I’m the first to admit that certain drugs can help people cope with certain effects of certain types of grief at certain times…but grief as an illness to be treated? Seriously? I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything so daft in my life. Where did this ‘two months’ rubbish come from? The grief caused by a bereavement never goes away although it becomes less raw and debilitating over time. If, for the sake of medical whatever, we have to give an avaerage time that grief has a significant effect on someone’s day to day life I would say a year to 18 months is more in the ball park for most people although that is (of course) a gross generalisation. There was a reason for the Victorian mourning period!
    Sometimes I despair!!!

  3. Jonathan

    Thursday 14th February 2013 at 10:17 am

    We read in the piece linked here: “Now, psychiatrists will no longer be advised to wait two months after a patient loses a loved one, for the period of “normal” grief to pass, to diagnose mental illness — and prescribe antidepressants.

    Also: “As yet, the potential effects of treating grief in the same way we would depression have not been studied.”

    I’m no doctor, but I do have some past experience of mind-altering drugs, and in my work with Cruse bereavement support I’m constantly faced with the apparently undermining effects of anti-d’s on peole’s sense of reality. Their grief is treated as an illness, so instead of respecting it they become suspicious of it; they often think of their natural emotional response to death as symptoms, and they wonder why the drugs aren’t working.

    Some NHS authorities lately are providing at least limited funds towards the work of Cruse, in return for feedback on its effect on ‘grief symptoms’, so possibly there’s hope that understanding may grow on both sides. But I believe that initiatives such as telling doctors to treat grief as a form of depression (even over the Atlantic) won’t help; and in a lead from the article quoted, we read that “Zisook also thinks that the DSM-IV confused many clinicians by implying that grief does not last longer than two months”, so if clinicians can be so easily led away from their own common sense, perhaps Doctor can’t always be trusted to know best.

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