Grief/Grieving/Bereavement, News, Social Work/Helping Profession/Mental Health

DSM-5: Bereavement and Depression

by Victoria Brewster, MSW

Thanks to LinkedIn, I came across an article on Grief/Bereavement and Depression in the NY Times. As a professional with an MSW, this article causes me to pause and to express concern. Grief/Bereavement is normal after the death of a loved one. As one who works with older adults, I have experienced the reality for many older adults, after a certain age it is more likely, that one is faced with death on a regular basis.

Depression has been underdiagnosed in older adults. When one’s health suffers and they lose friends and loved ones, the sentiment went, why wouldn’t they be depressed? The DSM-IV clearly distinguishes between normal and expected grief after loss from the more persistent and severe symptoms of clinical depression.

Grief usually runs its course within 2-6 months and typically does not require treatment with medications. Those suffering from grief report symptoms that are also symptoms of major depression; sadness, tearfulness, insomnia and decreased appetite. But, researchers have noted, grief rarely produces the symptoms of depression, such as low self-esteem or feelings of worthlessness.

“Grief is not a disorder and should be considered normal even if it is accompanied by some of the same symptoms seen in depression.” – Eric Widera, Geriatrician

The 5th edition of the DSM , which is due out this year, would characterize bereavement as a depressive disorder.

In removing the ‘bereavement exclusion’, the DSM-5 encourages clinicians to diagnose major depression in persons with normal symptoms of bereavement after only 2 weeks of mild depressive symptoms.

This gives me the feeling that depression may become overdiagnosed and anti-depressants overprescribed for what should be ‘normal’ grief. What are your thoughts on this?

*First posted at: http://www.socialjusticesolutions.org/2013/01/25/dsm-v-bereavement-and-depression/

 

36 thoughts on “DSM-5: Bereavement and Depression”

  1. I usually do not create a bunch of comments, however after reading through a few of the comments here DSM-5:
    Bereavement and Depression NorthernMSW: Aging, Healthcare & Social Work Issues.
    .. I actually do have 2 questions for you if it’s allright. Could it be just me or do a few of the responses appear as if they are written by brain dead individuals? 😛 And, if you are posting on other sites, I would like to follow everything new you have to post. Would you make a list of all of all your social networking sites like your linkedin profile, Facebook page or twitter feed?

    1. My home page has my LinkedIn profile info along with my email address and the information regarding another site I write for-Social Justice Solutions-a wonderful site that is geared for social workers, BSW and MSW students and those that seek social justice.
      Feel free to drop me a line! -Vikki

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