Some readers may be aware that the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (known more generally as the DSM, with the next edition to be DSM V) is in the process of revision. One controversy in that process has to do with the diagnosis of major depression, and what is known as “the bereavement exclusion.” That is, symptoms that might indicate clinical depression might, for a person who has suffered a significant loss, might only indicate normal grief.
With that in mind, when I heard that there would be a segment on NPR’s Talk of the Nation discussing this issue, I was wary. However, when I listened I was pleased. Jennifer Ludden interviewed a clinical social worker and a psychiatrist. Both were able to discuss their own experiences of grief. Both were able to speak to the normalcy of grief. Both focused less on specific symptoms, and more on function: how well is the person moving over time past the initial grief and reengaging the world. Moreover, both were respectful of the support of clergy and chaplains for those grieving, both in general and in response to a chaplain who called in to the show.
It was an interesting and informative discussion. You can go here to read the transcript or listen to the recorded conversation. Take the half hour or so to listen. It will be well worth your time.