My Grief Care

Grief & Mental Health

5 Episodes

Episode 5 : Should I take medication for my grief?


Episode Notes

Psychological Medication

In this episode, I’m going to speak briefly about psychological medications and their relationship to healing from grief. First, while I am a trained, experienced and licensed psychotherapist who has worked with a wide variety of clients, some struggling with severe and persistent mental illness, I do not prescribe medicine.

Prescribing medicine is the role of your medical doctor. In the case of common and basic mental health symptoms, family practitioners and internists are typically well prepared to prescribe medications designed to help with sleep issues, depression or anxious symptoms. For psychotic symptom management, and other complex psychological cases, psychiatrists are most typically the prescribers of medications. Psychiatrists are also physicians who specialize in mental health and related medicines. I’m going to pause a moment here for an important safety announcement., I want to state strongly that you should never take another person’s leftover medications. Only use medications that are prescribed for you by a licensed physician.

Again, I am not a physician, but I know enough to introduce you to basics about medications for psychological symptoms. And, I bring up the topic here, because the impact of losing a loved one can often trigger difficult symptoms of a psychological nature. And, in some cases, a properly prescribed medication can help a grieving person manage such difficult symptoms.

I’d like to speak about a few types of medications and related considerations without getting into too much detail. I will do so based on symptoms.

Depressive symptoms like deep sadness, guilt, hopelessness, helplessness, worthlessness, lack of energy, are very common. There may also be issues with sleeping and disordered eating. If you look up the symptoms of Major Depressive Disorder (a commonly diagnosed mental disorder) you’ll note they are often the same as symptoms that often accompany grief. So, could an antidepressant be helpful to you? Well, only your physician can make that recommendation to you. But, it might help to know a little more about antidepressants. Most people have heard of antidepressants. But, in my experience, many people have inaccurate beliefs about the use and impact of antidepressants.

People sometimes think things such as:

  1. Antidepressants are for crazy people.
  2. Antidepressants are addictive.
  3. Taking antidepressants is a sin.

These beliefs are inaccurate. While it is true that antidepressants may have some negative side effects, and physicians rightfully take prudent precautions in prescribing them, they are not addictive. Taking an antidepressant doesn’t mean a person is crazy.

Finally, taking an antidepressant is certainly not a sin unless you believe ALL medications are sinful. Some people, myself included, do better with an antidepressant and have no negative side effects whatsoever. Others are able to take them for a season and then wean off them. Antidepressants are generally prescribed to take daily. And, again, they don’t make you high and they are not addictive.

What about anxious symptoms? Interestingly, some of the most common anti-anxiety medications are antidepressants. An effective antidepressant prescribed by a physician for anxiety, can be helpful and will probably have a very gradual impact. Other medications, such as those from the benzodiazepine family of medicines, are used to create a rapid tranquilizing/calming effect in the case of the fast onset of debilitating anxiety symptoms.

Some of these medicines DO have abuse potential and others don’t. But don’t worry. Your physician knows the pros and cons of these medications and will be able to answer any questions you might have. These medicine options may be considered if your anxiety symptoms are causing you to be less functional and fearful.

Sometimes a griever may not have crippling depressive or anxious symptoms, but may have trouble with insomnia. Insomnia is a symptom that can make other psychological symptoms worse. If you have trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep (or some combination of the two) a physician will be able to provide you sleep aid prescription options. Some very strong sleep aid medications have unpleasant and even dangerous symptoms. Others are considered to be very safe. So, physicians will typically work with the safest medication using the lowest possible doses to help you achieve sleep but with no more aid than is necessary.

It is always prudent to be cautious about taking medicines into your body. However, not considering a medication that may reduce very difficult symptoms, in my view, is not very wise. As a mental health professional, and a caring person, I hate to see someone suffering unnecessarily because they have unfounded beliefs about these classes of medications. I’m going to end this episode on that note and review key points with you quick.


  1. Symptoms associated with grieving a loss are sometimes very similar to mental health disorder symptoms and might be alleviated with properly prescribed medications.
  2. Physicians are the only persons who can prescribe medications for psychological symptoms and you should never take another person’s leftover medication.
  3. There are many false beliefs about medications for psychological symptoms.
  4. If a medication can safely reduce the negative psychological symptoms of a grieving person, their grief journey may be made shorter and less difficult to bear.


If you are struggling with symptoms impacting your sleeping, eating, depression or anxiety, please consider seeing your primary care physician for a medication consultation.


A person who ignores the advice of others may suffer needlessly in the present and often suffers regrets in the future.