Bereavement and depression

P. J. Clayton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

151 Scopus citations


Bereavement is the reaction to the loss of a loved one by death and usually occurs in three stages: numbness, depression, and recovery. The length of time it takes for bereavement to resolve varies from person to person. During the depression stage, the bereaved person may experience all the symptoms of the typical depressed patient, with the exception of retardation. However, a depressed patient has more symptoms than a bereaved person and reports feeling changed, not his or her usual self, whereas the bereaved person expects to have such symptoms. The essence of the morbidity of bereavement is the increased use of alcohol, tranquilizers, hypnotics, cigarettes, and other substances during this stressful time. Increased mortality occurs in men aged 75 years or younger in the first year of bereavement, but mortality does not increase in women or parents during that first year. Pathologic grief, defined as a continued depressive symptom, occurs in about 15% of bereaved persons when they are initially widowed. Treatment for the bereaved person should be that which is given to any depressed patient.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)34-38
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Clinical Psychiatry
Issue number7 SUPPL.
StatePublished - 1990
Externally publishedYes


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