“People grieving after the deaths of loved ones may exhibit the same sorts of symptoms (sadness, sleeplessness and loss of interest in daily activities among them) that characterize major depression. For many years, the DSM specified that, since grieving is a normal response to bereavement, such symptoms are not an adequate basis for diagnosing major depression. The new edition removes this exemption.” Gutting G. Depression and the limits of psychiatry. New York Times. February 6, 2013.

Like the authour of the article quoted above, I am disturbed that the mental health profession, through DSM, seeks to label complicated and intense grieving experiences as abnormal rather than ordinary. I am not alone in being concerned by DSM’s definition of grief as a major depressive disorder, but there you have it. DSM is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. As noted by Wikipedia, DSM “…is published by the American Psychiatric Association provides a common language and standard criteria for the classification of mental disorders.” Although DSM attracts a lot of criticism, it is the authorative standard followed by health providers, policy makers and agencies around the world.

Good grief, as if grief is not already misunderstood, now it will be equated with depression. There is little understanding of grief and our related processes after a significant loss. At a time of what can be intense physiological and psychological change, a time when it can be difficult to attend to one’s self, little is served by labeling what we have until now regarded as normal responses to bereavement as abnormal.

I am unhappy to see grief as one more reason to medicate society and, if I take a darker view, to socialise medication.