bonds of love, coping skills, death of a child, DSM-5, grief and depression, new entry D.S.M., Ted Guy
I’ve just written a column discussing some of the ideas in this piece–it will be published next week and I’ll post it. For now, here is the piece from the New York Times.
Author Ted Gup discusses over-medication and disputes the American Psychiatric Association’s designation of grief as part of depression (and therefore treatable by meds).
“Challenge and hardship have become pathologized and monetized. Instead of enhancing our coping skills, we undermine them and seek shortcuts where there are none, eroding the resilience upon which each of us, at some point in our lives, must rely. Diagnosing grief as a part of depression runs the very real risk of delegitimizing that which is most human — the bonds of our love and attachment to one another. The new entry in the D.S.M. cannot tame grief by giving it a name or a subsection, nor render it less frightening or more manageable.”
Your thoughts and ideas?
Here’s the link to the column in The Chapel Hill News.
Dottye Law Currin said:
In our early writing years together, Carol, you gave a prompt using Denise Leverton’s Talking to Grief. My response to that prompt speaks to this topic, I believe. What I wrote is:
“Grief and suffering. Learning to embrace our suffering. We humans seem to strive for feeling good, being happy, staying positive, keeping the faith, pulling ourselves up by our boot straps. Yet, in doing that, we turn our back on gifts that are far greater than the moment of pleasure. Facing that ‘homeless dog’ that at first glance may not seem so likely to give us joy or pleasure, may seem ugly and something we should shoo away.
Rather, embracing our suffering first gives us knowledge: we are brave, we are hopeful, we are trusting, we are capable of facing the unknown. The the journey shows us truth: ugly is relative, perceptions misleading. Then there is satisfaction: taking a risk and not dying, seeing a new reality, realizing we are still breathing, finding a quiet place that is our friend.
And from all that comes love. A renewed love of Self, a capacity for loving ‘homeless dogs,’ and awareness of LOVE personified.”
It seems to me that some things just can’t -nor should be – medicated.
Kay Windsor said:
Thanks, Carol, for starting this conversation. I will look forward to reading your column next week.
Grief, with all of the changes it brings to a surviving person’s life, is still a link, a connection to the person who has died. When many of us who have experienced the death of a child or loved one seem to others to refuse to “get over it,” it may be an indication of our not wanting to forget the person close to us, to keep the connection even without the physical presence.
Medication may be needed and prescribed for a grieving person, but that may not really be the point of many of the discussions on the change to the DSM-5 regarding the “bereavement exclusion,” marking a change from depressive symptoms that continue for two months (DSM IV) to no time exclusion in being able to classify the grief as part of a depressive disorder.
Some of us may wonder, as the New York Times opinion writer Ted Gup did, whether “Diagnosing grief as a part of depression runs the very real risk of delegitimizing that which is most human — the bonds of our love and attachment to one another.”
Here is one more link, this one from NPR’s “All Things Considered” about the “bereavement exclusion” change in the fifth edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders:
Marianna Crane said:
I do agree that we, as a society, are becoming more reliant of the “quick fix” pharmaceutical intervention–in many situations/problems not only for grief or for hyperactive children. Sometimes I wonder if our overcrowded health care system promotes this behavior because our primary providers have so little time to listen, diagnose appropriately and follow the outcomes. Just toss a pill at the patient.
Look at the problems that have surfaced with super bugs because of overuse of antibiotics. When I worked as a nurse practitioner years ago, I had to educate my patients even then that not all illnesses “need” an antibiotic.
We are not only medicalizing grief but our human condition. Sad.
Amy Mize said:
Although I agree with your basic premise…for my own experience, I do not think I would have had the opportunity to put in the grief work neccessary to heal, without pharmaceutical assistance.
While I DO agree that many doctors are too quick to prescribe meds for trivial matters, when a parent, or any family member, has been facing a lengthy illness, and death of a loved one, they may be too deep in “the pit” to climb out on their own.
Carol Henderson said:
I agree with you Amy.
Still, I do wonder about “medicalizing” grief, of psychiatrists now diagnosing it as depression, and treating it immediately as such.
Here are a few more resources you might find interesting.