ZocdocAnswersAre unfortunate life events capable of triggering major depressive disorder?

Question

Are unfortunate life events capable of triggering major depressive disorder?

I've never been depressed, but recently I lost my father. I'm 25. Could this have triggered my depression? How long will it last?

Answer

First of all, I am sorry to hear about your loss. This is no doubt a very difficult time, and I highly recommend that you seek support to help you deal with it. You could talk to either your primary care doctor or your psychiatrist or psychologist for help. One important thing your doctor can do for you is help you distinguish between grief symptoms and depression, as they are not the same thing. It is normal to have feelings of loss and sadness for some time after the death of a loved one, and this does not necessarily qualify as depression. If the grief symptoms go on for more than 6 months and significantly are interfering with your functioning at that point, then another diagnosis is complicated grief, which tends to respond well to counseling and group therapy. Complicated grief definitely should be addressed medically, whereas regular grief needs family and social support but probably does not need other treatment. It is also important to distinguish between depression developing after a loss in the family and grief, because, although treating the depression symptoms with an anti depressant is quite helpful for the depression symptoms, it generally does not help the grief symptoms very much.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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