Bereavements are a natural part of life. However, permanently losing somebody we are close to can cause significant distress, uncertainty and self-doubt. Complications in the grieving process may occur when there is a struggle to maintain the relationship with the deceased whilst having to face the reality of the loss. Research and clinical evidence have demonstrated that, for some people, the death of a loved one can precipitate major depression, as can other stressors, like losing a job or being a victim of a physical attack. Approximately 15% of people, who are bereaved, continue to experience symptoms of depression one to two years after the death. For these people they experience a range of depression symptoms that are not typically grief.


The symptoms for depression following grief are the same as the criteria for depression without grief; however, symptoms might also include the following:

  • Strong feelings of guilt
  • Inability to work or socialise
  • Hallucinations

The core symptoms of depression include a persistent sadness or low mood. This may or may not be accompanied by tearfulness. The other core symptom is a marked loss of interest or pleasure in activities that you once enjoyed. There are a number of other common symptoms:

  • Changes to your usual sleeping pattern. This may include disturbed sleep, not being able to sleep, waking up early and not being able to go back to sleep or sleeping too much.
  • Changes in your appetite. You might have a poor appetite and have lost weight or you have been comfort eating and have gained weight.
  • Fatigue, tiredness and lack of energy
  • Irritability, restlessness or agitation. The reverse might be true that you are more slowed down in your movements and thinking.
  • Poor concentration or indecisiveness
  • Strong feelings of guilt and worthlessness
  • Frequent thoughts that you would be better off dead or hurting yourself in some way

Best Evidence-Based Treatments

The National Institute of Health Care and Excellence recommend the following psychological therapies for the highest success rate in treating depression.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT):
Cognitive behavioural therapy focuses on the relationship between thoughts, feelings, behaviours and physiological sensations. The cognitive facet assumes that the meaning one gives to an event is important and if you can change the interpretation or perception you can change the feeling (affect) associated with it. The behavioural facet assumes changing what you do is often a powerful way of changing other things in your life, which can improve affect and reduce depressive symptoms.

Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT):
Interpersonal psychotherapy focuses on the relationship between depressive symptoms and interpersonal problems. The premise is that depression can be understood as a response to difficulties within our interpersonal context. One of the four main focal areas that IPT specifically addresses is grief.

An anti-depressant is recommended for people who have moderate to severe depression. The combination of an anti-depressant and one of the psychological therapies mentioned above is deemed the most effective intervention according to research trials. This treatment is also recommended by NICE guidelines, for the treatment of moderate to severe depression.

Elite Psychology comprises of an expert team, specialising in the range of best private evidence-based therapies for grief. Our highly qualified associates are accredited in the most successful therapies, complimented by psychiatrists who can prescribe anti-depressants on private prescriptions. We can assess you and provide the most efficacious therapy tailored to your difficulties. We know the importance of being understood, and endeavour to deliver the highest standard of psychological interventions to meet your needs.

Call us on 020 3815 7935 for further information or to book an assessment. Alternatively you can complete the online contact form.