By Last Updated: September 6th, 2022

Grief vs Depression

Grief is common when suffering the loss of someone or something. Sometimes it can even be something you go through after receiving a medical diagnosis or news that changes your life. People often describe grief as coming in waves, where sometimes you will feel okay, and then other times you’ll be overcome by the gravitas of the situation.

Most grief and sadness decrease over time as you move on with your life. You may be reminded of the loss from time to time, depending on circumstance, seasons, and certain triggers. Sometimes, though, you might ask yourself: Is it grief or depression? Here’s what you need to know about grief vs. depression and what you or a loved one might be experiencing.

Grief and Its Symptoms

As mentioned before, grief usually takes place after the loss of a loved one, a treasured item, or even a piece of news that alters one’s life. But there are also symptoms that go along with grief, and while they are different for each person, they might include:

  • Loss or change in appetite
  • Sleep disruption
  • Feeling tired or exhausted
  • Crying a lot
  • Having issues focusing
  • Not wanting to be around people
  • Thinking about suicide
  • Feeling sad, hopeless, or lonely
  • Failing to bathe or take care of one’s hygiene
  • Feeling angry at themselves, other people, or even the loved one that passed away

Depression and Its Symptoms

You might ask yourself, “What’s the difference between grief and depression?”—especially when a lot of the symptoms of grief sound very similar to how people describe depression. First, grief is something that isn’t medically diagnosed, while depression is a clinical condition. In order to be clinically depressed, the following symptoms must be present every day for at least two weeks:

  • Feeling sad or irritable
  • Loss of interest in activities that used to make you happy
  • Weight loss
  • Sleeping too much or not sleeping enough
  • Moving slower and with less urgency
  • Loss of energy
  • Sense of worthlessness or guilt
  • Having trouble focusing and making decisions
  • Thoughts about death or suicide

young woman sitting on lake dock feeling grief or depression

Grief or Depression: What to Look For? Quiz

Clearly, there is a lot of overlap between grief and depression. Here’s a short quiz to help you identify the differences between the two. The answers will either be A. Grief, B. Depression, or C. Both 

  1. The person has experienced a loss. 
  2. The person is focusing on themselves. 
  3. The person experiences some waves of happiness, some waves of sadness. 
  4. The person experiences waves of physical impairment, some waves of feeling okay. 
  5. The person generally isolates and prefers to be left alone. 
  6. The person’s emotions are all over the place. 
  7. The person generally feels guilty about everything. 
  8. The person feels worthless and hates themselves. 
  9. The thoughts of death the person experiences relates to having lost the loved one and wanting to be with them. 


  1. C. Both
    Grief stems from having lost someone or something and depression can also stem from a loss before it manifests.
  2. B. Depression
    Typically, someone going through grief focuses on the person they loved and lost, while with depression, they are focusing on themselves and their own problems (or their perceived problems).
  3. A. Grief
    Someone experiencing grief may feel happy sometimes and sad the next. Generally, someone who is depressed is sad all the time.
  4. A. Grief
    Someone struggling with grief might feel physically okay sometimes, physically not other times. Someone who is depressed is generally always physically affected.
  5. B. Depression
    This is a tricky one, but some who are grieving prefer to be surrounded by people, but generally those who are depressed self-isolate.
  6. A. Grief
    Someone who is dealing with grief might feel sad, happy, and regretful in one day whereas someone who is depressed generally always feels one particular emotion.
  7. B. Depression
    Someone who is going through grief may feel guilty about aspects of losing the loved one, like they could have done more, while people who are depressed generally always feel guilt.
  8. B. Depression
    Someone who is depressed has a sense of worthlessness, whereas someone going through grief might feel that way only related to the loss and otherwise would feel okay.
  9. A. Grief
    Someone who is experiencing grief might think about death because they miss their loved one, while someone who’s depressed might be thinking about death because they feel they are unable to cope with their pain.

man in shirt in tie sitting and looking sad and depressed after losing a loved one

Grief and Depression Counseling: When and How to Seek Help

Now that you know the differences between grief and depression, what can you do to help yourself or someone in need? It’s important to be alert for changes, especially if you or someone you love has just experienced a loss. If you recognize changes and feel you (or they) might need help, then seek medical help (or encourage them to seek professional help) by visiting your doctor or a therapist. When in doubt, it’s better to be safe than sorry and seek the professional support you need.

About Opal Cremation

At Opal Cremation, we know the passing of a loved one can be a grief-filled and emotional time. That’s why our goal is—and always will be\—to help friends and family of the departed navigate these uncertain times. Our cremation services are all-inclusive, and our pricing is always transparent, with no unexpected, unpleasant surprises. Plus, we’re more than happy to make cremation arrangements over the phone via our dedicated customer care team so you can have more time to spend with family and friends while mourning your loved one. We’re ready to help 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

For more information about our cremation services, visit our support center. We created a library of cremation FAQs to answer your questions about the cremation process.

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