A Memorial to My Husband

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Medications to Cope With Grief - Yes or No?

There has been a lot of discussion lately on the Grief groups that I belong to concerning the use of medications while you are going through grief. I would say the opinions are about half and half.

Some believe that medications should not be used because it delays the grieving time and some believe there is nothing wrong in using medications to help you cope with the pain and grief you are going through.

While each of us grieve differently and have different opinions on the subject of medications, it ultimately comes down to what your doctor believes is best for you and your situation. Your doctor will know best, what medications you can be put on, if any and determine if an anti-depressant or an anti-anxiety medication will react in some way to other medications you may be already taking.

I suffer from clinical depression and have most of my life, so if I am to function at all through this time of my life, I have to take both anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications. More than likely because I have a history of depression and anxiety, I will have to continue with medications for the long term.

Situational depression such as what people experience when they lose a loved one is most generally a temporary condition. You can choose to "suffer through it" or talk with your doctor about temporary help with medication. If you do not have a past history of depression, a short course of medication may help you through the rough times.

As with any anti-depressant or anti-anxiety medication make sure you are closely monitored by your doctor. It is not advisable to simply stop these medications; you have to taper off of them gradually.

I believe it is firmly "embedded" in most people's minds that if you have to be on an anti-depressant or anti-anxiety medication that there is some kind of mental problem and they shy away from the idea of taking the medications. While clinical depression is a medical condition, it does not mean you are crazy or ready for a psychiatric ward.

My doctor explained "clinical depression" to me in this way:
Imagine you are driving on a road with lots of hills and valleys, you drive down into one of the valleys in the road and your car stalls. You cannot get it started to be able to continue with your ride. With clinical depression there are chemical imbalances that react somewhat in the same way. The chemicals in your body drop down and you are in one of those valleys and you are unable to bring yourself out of it without medicinal help.

Situational depression is a reaction to the death of a loved one, losing a job, an illness, children moving out of the house and many other reasons can cause situational depression.

If you are completely against medications to help with your depression and anxiety through your grieving process, Neil Nedley, M.D. has written a very interesting book if you are seeking an alternative to medications.

Dr. Nedley gives you a well-referenced, in-depth comprehension of how depression affects the person mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Depression: The Way Out

So whatever your beliefs are, remember you have to do what is best for you to get through this time of grief.

If you are trying to deal with your grief on your own, there are plenty of Yahoo Groups that you can join to talk with people who are going through the same thing that you are and know exactly what you are feeling.

The two internet grief support groups that I recommend and belong to are:


Veterans Widows

I am lucky to have the support of my daughter, son in law and my two grandchildren and close friends but I also needed to talk with people who were feeling the same as I was.

I don't think I would have made it as far as I have without the support and comfort from the people in both of these groups and I thank each and every one of them for being there for me when no one else was able to be around.


  1. Good for you for posting this discussion. We are not a very grief friendly society and we need to use help if we need it and appropriately.
    I do many presentations on grief based on the book I wrote Baby Boomers Face Grief - Survival and Recovery. I also write articles for many websites - the same feedback I consistently hear is that people feel alone and sometimes going crazy through this process. Work with your doctor and do what is good for you.
    Bravo to your bravery to bring up this subject.

  2. Jane, thank you very much for your comments.