• Michael V. Bloom
  • David A. Smith


Sadness and grief are normal reactions to disappointments and significant losses. Ethologists have noted that grief and sadness are important survival mechanisms. The grief reaction has probably evolved as a powerful negative force for abandoning one’s group affiliates, thereby strongly encouraging maintenance of an extended family and tribe necessary for survival. Sadness and disappointment are nature’s way of saying you need to change to have your needs met. The initial symptoms of major depressive episodes are often indistinguishable from those of bereavement. They each include a mood that is downcast and sad, anhedonia (lack of pleasure), alteration in appetite, sleep disorder, fatigue and lethargy, alterations in psychomotor activity, guilt, difficulties with concentration, and sometimes difficulty seeing any meaning or value to life. Even guilt has survival value for the human species, as it can be a strong motivator for prosocial behavior and sacrifice for the good of the group. Pathologic depression, however, occurs when these important survival mechanisms somehow go awry or no longer function beneficially in the present environment.


Suicidal Ideation Family Physician Guilt Feeling Grief Reaction Group Affiliate 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael V. Bloom
    • 1
  • David A. Smith
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Sioux Falls Family Practice ResidencySioux FallsUSA
  2. 2.College of MedicineTexas A&M UniversityUSA
  3. 3.BrownwoodUSA

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