The death of a loved one evokes painful emotions in us. In uncomplicated bereavement a person who has suffered a loss experiences sadness and other difficult feelings, but can continue functioning in her everyday life. In more complicated bereavement, depression or anxiety emerge, leading to such symptoms as loss of interest and pleasure in one's life, concentration difficulties, self-isolating behavior, irrational guilt and self-blame, and avoidance of reminders of the lost loved one.

There is, clinically, no difference between prolonged intense grief and major depressive disorder. In addition, a person who is already struggling with depression will likely experience a worsening of their symptoms following the loss of a loved one. Psychotherapy can help one focus on her loss as a cause of psychological distress. Medication may also help address the symptoms of complicated bereavement.