Depression Causes The Stages of Grief Guide The Stages of Grief Guide The 5 Stages Denial Anger Bargaining Depression Acceptance What to Know About the Depression Stage of Grief By Sanjana Gupta Sanjana Gupta Sanjana is a health writer and editor. Her work spans various health-related topics, including mental health, fitness, nutrition, and wellness. Learn about our editorial process Published on May 26, 2022 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD Medically reviewed by Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD LinkedIn Twitter Dr. Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD, is a licensed clinical psychologist and a professor at Yeshiva University’s clinical psychology doctoral program. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print Jupiterimages / Getty Images Table of Contents View All Table of Contents Five Stages of Grief What Is the Depression Stage? Symptoms Coping Next in The Stages of Grief Guide What to Know About the Acceptance Stage of Grief If you’re grieving the loss of something or someone you cared about, you may find yourself feeling sad and low. Everything may feel bleak and hopeless and you may not feel like doing things you once cared about. You may feel overwhelmed and find it difficult to get out of bed and go about your day the way you did before. If you feel this way, you’re not alone. Many people have similar experiences when they grieve a loss, whether it’s the loss of a loved one, a relationship, a job, an idea, a sense of control, or anything else that had meaning to them. This article explores the feelings of depression you may experience in the aftermath of a loss, as well as some coping strategies that may be helpful. It also explains the depression stage of grief, as part of the stages of grief theory. What Are the Five Stages of Grief? In 1969, a Swiss-born American psychiatrist Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross published a book titled “On Death and Dying,” in which she theorized that people grieve in five stages, which are: DenialAngerBargainingDepressionAcceptance The U.S. National Library of Medicine notes that this theory was among the first to deal with death and became a standard text for professionals working with terminally ill patients and their families. This theory has also gained popular appeal. The theory is comforting because it brings order to something horrifying, says Jonathan DePierro, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. However, Dr. DePierro explains that recent research suggests most people do not fit neatly into these stages when they experience a loss. "Grief is messy. People grieve in many ways and feel many emotions at once, so there isn’t necessarily a predictable process and timeline for grieving," says Dr. DePierro. That said, Dr. DePierro notes that this theory can help people understand what kinds of reactions to generally expect after a loss. What Is Complicated Grief? What Is the Depression Stage of Grief? The depression stage is the fourth stage of the grief theory. Dr. DePierro explains that it was initially believed that people moved through the stages of grief one at a time, although that’s not necessarily true. People may experience sadness and other symptoms of depression at any point in the grieving process, or may not experience them at all. The duration, frequency, and intensity of their feelings and symptoms may also vary. Everyone reacts to loss differently. However, it can be helpful to understand the characteristics and symptoms of the depression stage of grief as explained by this theory, because it can help you recognize some of the experiences you may go through in the aftermath of a loss. Symptoms of the Depression Stage of Grief According to Dr. DePierro, these are some of the depressive thoughts and feelings you may experience while you’re grieving: Feeling sad, empty, or numbFeeling overwhelmed by the requirements of daily lifeExperiencing despair and hopelessnessSleeping or staying in bed all dayCrying oftenExperiencing a cascade of sadness with every reminder of the lossThinking that others will not understand your lossBelieving that your grief will overwhelm othersWithdrawing from other people instead of letting them help youFeeling tired and low on energy “These reactions are normal. They generally become less intense over time and are not usually signs of a mental health disorder requiring professional treatment,” says Dr. DePierro. Coping With the Depression Stage of Grief Dr. DePierro shares some strategies that can help you manage feelings of depression during the grieving process: Accept support: It’s important to accept support from friends, family, colleagues, spiritual leaders, and others who have been helpful in the past. Withdrawing from people often makes feelings of depression worse. Don’t avoid your emotions: Work on accepting all the emotions that come up. No feeling is right or wrong. Self-judgments like “I shouldn’t be feeling this way now,” can make feelings of depression worse. Perform a meaningful ritual: Rituals and routines can help you process and understand the loss. For instance, if you have lost a loved one, there are many ways to remember them and honor their life. Some people write letters to the person who has passed away or seek comfort in the traditions of their faith. Seek help if you need it: If the grief takes hold of your life, leaving no space for anything else, it may be helpful to seek professional support because there are effective treatments available. You should consider seeking help if you tend to avoid reminders of the loss, continue to have trouble accepting the loss even after six months, feel numb, empty, or overwhelmed by anger, or have thoughts of suicide. If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911. For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database. A Word From Verywell Experiencing a loss is painful and difficult, and you may find yourself experiencing symptoms of depression. These symptoms are part of a normal reaction to a loss and generally fade with time. However, if you find yourself unable to cope with the loss, you can seek help from a mental healthcare professional. Best Online Grief Support Groups 5 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Grief. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. Stroebe M, Schut H, Boerner K. Cautioning healthcare professionals. Omega (Westport). 2017;74(4):455-473. doi:10.1177/0030222817691870 O’Connor MF. Grief: A brief history of research on how the body, mind, and brain adapt. Psychosom Med. 2019;81(8):731-738. doi:10.1097/PSY.0000000000000717 Counseling Center, University of Washington. The stages of grief. By Sanjana Gupta Sanjana is a health writer and editor. Her work spans various health-related topics, including mental health, fitness, nutrition, and wellness. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Speak to a Therapist for Depression Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.