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Insomnia is a sleep disorder that can make it hard to fall asleep or hard to stay asleep, despite the opportunity for adequate sleep.

Mental Health and Grief

Grief and Mental Health – When the Two Merge

Grief is something that we all experience at one time, or another.  The stages of grief – sometimes explained as 3, 5 or 7 different stages – are pretty well known and include shock, denial, anger, sadness, acceptance in some order.  Most people will struggle but eventually come to some resolution with no prediction as to how long that will take.

Resolution of deep sorrow can be made much more difficult when a pre-existing mental illness is imposed.  A severe loss can trigger a relapse of virtually any mental illness, even when the illness was well treated, and the patient was stable.  Patients may relapse into severe depression, bipolar episodes, panic attacks or a return of obsessive compulsive behavior.  If the patient was not well stabilized, the whole apple-cart can be upset.

Depressed and Suicidal GirlEven the most mentally healthy person can become unstable if unable to resolve the feelings caused by painGrief has been known to result in clinical depression, lasting for a long period which can lead to extreme difficulties and even death in the case of suicide.  The problem comes in a case where one becomes “stuck” at a certain point – usually during the agitation period.

There is a saying;   “depression is anger turned inward.”  The existence of anger over an extended period can cause depression.

Anger allows us to have a heightened response to a threatening situation.  Anger fuels energy, giving us a false sense of power, but over time, the brain and the body run out of that same energy.  This can result in fatigue, emotional lability, and symptoms of depression.  In some cases, depression caused by grief may be resolved with grief counseling.

In other cases, however, depression may have become severe enough that medication may be warranted.  Clinical depression is characterized by:

•    Fatigue and decreased energy
•    Cloudy thinking
•    Feelings of guilt, worthlessness or helplessness
•    Insomnia or excessive sleeping
•    Irritability
•    Loss of interest in pleasurable activities
•    Body pain or digestive problems
•    Persistent sad or empty feelings
•    Thoughts of suicide

How different is this from grief – not much.  The only difference would be in how long it lasts.  Depression carries a high risk of suicide and if symptoms last longer than what would be considered “normal” – for any reason – you should seek treatmentMental Health ChaosDepression that is severe enough to interfere with normal activities for longer than four to six weeks should be treated – even if life circumstances explained it.  Counseling may work – or you may need medication for a short period.

If you have some known mental disorder, stay in contact with your mental health professional.  Most – and I did not say “all”, but most mental health patients find it difficult to self-assess, some find it difficult to be openly honest.  The only way to ensure that an episode of grief is resolved without severe consequences of going “off track” is to allow someone else to help assess your mental state.

Whether you are or are not a mental health patient, know that grief can cause mental illness and can worsen an existing illness – even if only for a short time.  It is not something to be dismissed or ignored as the risks are high.

Melissa Lind

Depression is Anger Turned Inward

Depression and Sleep

Sleep pattern change can be a symptom of depression.

When depression sets in, one of the symptoms of that depression is a change in your sleep pattern.

You may discover that you are suffering from insomnia, which means that you aren’t sleeping well, if at all. Your sleep pattern may be altered in the other direction, however, and you may discover that you are sleeping entirely too much. Seldom will someone who is suffering from depression maintain their normal sleeping pattern throughout that depression.

Depressed Old ManIf insomnia is a problem, your doctor may be able to help with a sleeping pill. You could also try an over-the-counter sleeping aid, or some deep breathing exercises. There are numerous methods that one can use to get themselves to sleep.

If the alternate sleep pattern exists, however, and you are sleeping too much, there is nothing that your doctor can give you to change that. This is something that you have to change yourself. Although, if you are taking an antidepressant, this will offer some help with sleeping too much.

Again, you have to help yourself as well. Set a regular time to go to bed, and regular time to wake up each day. You have to stick with that schedule. It may seem hard, but when the alarm goes off, make you get out of bed.

Once you are out of bed, get dressed and get moving. Energy creates more energy. Take a walk outdoors or on your treadmill. Give the house a run through and straighten things up. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you get your body moving. With this stimulation, you won’t be as tempted to crawl back into the bed.

Avoid napping if at all possible during the day – including napping on the couch or in your favorite chair. Keeping your eyes open and your mind busy will help you sleep better at night.

Be sure to discuss changes in your sleeping pattern with your doctor. He or she will have more advice that is specific to your situation and help you to correct your sleeping pattern.

A normal sleep will help you from getting depressed.