What Happens When Loss Overwhelms

When grief turns to depression and anxiety, it may be time to seek help.  

  • Nancy F. Smith

For some, the grief response may reach the level of clinical depression or generate a sense of uncertainty that borders on anxiety or panic. Here are the symptoms that indicate a need for professional help.


  • A sadness so intense that it begins to interfere with your life. You don’t go out. You avoid people. Nothing lifts your feelings of gloom.
  • A debilitating sense of guilt, because you can’t shake the feeling that you should have been able to prevent the loss.
  • Increased anger at or irritation by others who don’t appear to understand your feelings or who, you believe, haven’t experienced the same kind of loss.
  • Reliance on alcohol or drugs to alleviate the sadness.
  • Sleep disruptions, especially beyond six months.
  • Severe depression and hopelessness about the future. Thoughts of suicide.
  • Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder: reexperiencing the loss event through flashbacks or nightmares, memory and concentration problems, anxiety, a tendency to be easily startled.