Nightly News | January 25, 2012
>>> we are back with a controversial question tonight. can you be diagnosed with grief? more than that, should you be given a pill for it? scientists are debating whether to classify the pain we feel after a loved one dies as a disorder, and something that could be treated with medication. this as anti-depressant use in the u.s. has jumped almost 400% in the last three-year period. our report from nbc's anne thompson .
>> reporter: death is an inevitable part of life, and so is the pain that follows, but is it a disorder? grief would be labeled a mental disorder under a proposed change in the diagnostic mark mancun ul for the american psychiatric association .
>> the reason to do that is so clinicians can consider the possibility of whether to treat a major depression in someone who's recently bereaved.
>> reporter: critics say it would stigmatize what is part of the normal human condition .
>> we are, in fact, making it so unhappiness seems to be something wrong with you rather than a signal that you should do better in your life or retool your life somehow.
>> reporter: andrea and keith have known that gut-wrenching pain for almost three years after losing their 22-year-old daughter stephanie to colon cancer .
>> i miss her contagiousless.
>> reporter: they say they reclaimed their lives.
>> your mind doesn't allow you to fully accept the impact.
>> reporter: many fear the new label would lead to a dramatic increase in the use of anti-depressants, already taken by 1-10 americans, an $11 billion a year business.
>> if you classify grief as a disorder, it becomes a target for treatment and for especially medication.
>> reporter: supporters say drug therapy should not be an obstacle or the only answer.
>> it's not an essential, but one of the tools in our tool box for depression. there are very good psychotherapies for depression.
>> reporter: a difficult subject for the pain we will all feel, and the doctors who want to help. anne thompson , nbc news, new york.