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Grief, Depression and Mental Wellbeing

For years, theorists have attempted to explain the distinction between grief and depression, going back as far as Sigmund Freud who tackled it in his article Mourning and Melancholia or even going further back.

While others are interested in making the distinction, my interest has been in observing the similarity - focusing on addressing my clients' specific reactions rather than labeling them as 'depression' or 'grief'. This article's image of the emotional whirlwind illustrates specific reactions that could be experienced by someone who is grieving a death, job loss or family illness.. They do not necessarily experience all the reactions. If you are experiencing a challenging time, go through the emotional whirlwind image to assess what you are experiencing and also not experiencing.

This same image could also illustrate some of the same specific reactions such as sadness, loneliness, frustration experienced by a person that presents with an unexplained, unprovoked context and gets diagnosed as depressed. Something to consider though is that the reason a person is presenting with an unexplained context for the symptoms may be due to a context of situational adversity that has been unconsciously repressed from past years but manifesting in the present - a situational loss that has occurred years ago .

This is why it is so important for you to be in touch with yourself, able to mindfully self monitor your emotions and behaviors with awareness to avoid not being able to retrieve past experiences that linger, manifesting in the present with adverse reactions. In order to be able to do this, I developed the 3-A Coping Framework. The components of Acknowledge, Assess, Assist operate on the premise that wherever there is adversity, there is situational loss that brings on specific reactions to be addressed. I see the impact of loss in the circumstances that individuals experience. This view is different from the conventional cultural views related to loss and grief.

To share my view, I devised the ground-breaking 3-A Grief Approach. originally developed as a tool to address the losses that dementia caregivers experience in my 2007 article 'Introducing the 3-A Grief Intervention Model: Acknowledge, Assess, Assist ' published in the Omega Journal of Death and Dying. It has been further developed over the years into the 3-A Coping Framework for more people to be able to use in a variety of challenging situations. The simplest explanation of the 3-A's is:

Acknowledge the adversity, loss and face reality;

Assess the impact, the specific reactions;

Assist with strategies and methods unique for the individual..

Medication such as antidepressants may assist in addressing adverse reactions - but is not enough. Grief processing is one of the assist strategies that can be applied not only for death circumstances but for other circumstances such as job loss, and family illness.

Learn more about coping through grief and depression applying the 3-A Coping Framework


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