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“Heartbeak-Related” Depression

Posted Jan 05 2010 12:00am

This is somewhat of a public service announcement.

For the past few days I have been fielding questions from reporters and readers (some very long-time readers) with regard to Alexa Ray Joel’s discussion of her “heartbreak related” depression.

So for the record, these are my thoughts:

1) Alexa Ray is an example of why GPYP/GPYB exists. Because there is a lot of misinformation/non-information out there. She is speaking up about what can happen if you don’t go through the grief/rebuilding process after a breakup. You can truly sink into a clinical depression.

2) I am very glad she’s talking about this and shedding light on the downhill slope of not dealing with your breakup over a long period of time.

This is more proof that time does not heal all wounds. It simply doesn’t. There is a process. A grief process and a rebuilding process.

If you don’t keep it in balance or attend to your loss, depression is going to be the end-result. If not this breakup, some breakup down the line. This is covered, completely, in Getting Past Your Breakup and in various places on the blog. (I know you all know this but I’m reiterating it for new readers).

3) There is no clinical diagnosis of “heartbreak-related” depression. The correct term is situational depression due to loss, the most common is a breakup. The terminology Alexa Ray is using is good for the lay-person to understand but “heartbreak-related depression” is not a clinical term.

I’ve had several readers ask me why I haven’t talked about loss after breakup in these terms. That is how she is summarizing her experience and I’m glad she’s laying it out, but I was a diagnostic clinican for several years and although I think that GPYB (book and blog) does a pretty good job of breaking grief and loss down for the average reader, I’m not going to make up terms.

With all due respect to her (and I do respect her and I’m not trying to nitpick here because she and I are on the same page with regard to this) but just for the record, there is no such clinical term.

I’m sorry to reporters who would like me to agree that there is, but there isn’t. I’ve explained several times that it’s situational depression that is triggered by loss. I’m not disagreeing with her, I’m clarifying (clinically) what she is saying. If I don’t make it into your stories for this, so be it.

4) The reason I wrote the book is the same reason she is talking about now…because unresolved loss can be a killer. I have studied grief and loss for years now and it builds and builds as I’ve explained on here and in the book.

5) So I thank her for talking about it and it sheds light on how the after-effects of a breakup can shatter ones life, but I haven’t read a single thing (or been asked a single question) about how to avoid this. The reporters I’ve spoken with are looking for: “Yes there is such a thing and this is what it looks like…” without a SINGLE question about how to avoid it or what to do if you’re sliding into a depression after a breakup. In the book I talk about the difference between grieving and depression. It’s important. If it wasn’t, it wouldn’t be in the book.

6) Getting Past Your Breakup addresses the NORMAL grieving process after a breakup and how to keep it from turning into depression. And Alexa Ray is right…it does not receive the attention it deserves…(hence this blog and the book).

7) I’ve talked here for a few years and in the book over the most contributing factors to depression and how to overcome them: obsession with the ex, unresolved loss, self-esteem and not knowing how to grieve while rebuilding. I hope that more people start to understand and recognize the process (that would be fabulous).

So that’s my take on this subject.

I hope this answers some of your questions. :)

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