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Complicated Grief Requires Attention

When grief symptoms linger, perhaps after death of a loved one, and then become increasingly debilitating, a distinctive form of treatment may be necessary to bring relief reports the October issue of the Harvard Mental Health Letter. The condition, called complicated grief, has features of both depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The most characteristic symptoms of complicated grief are intrusive thoughts of the deceased person and a painful yearning for his or her presence. When grief is most severe, a person may deny the death or consider suicide.

The risk of developing complicated grief depends on both the immediate circumstances of the death and the background against which it occurs. Complicated grief is more likely to occur if the death was sudden, violent, or unexpected. But just as experiences not typically regarded as traumatic can still lead to PTSD symptoms, so can even normal bereavement produce complicated grief.

“Whether complicated grief occurs depends on how the person copes, not just with trauma, but with loss,” says Dr. Michael Miller, editor in chief of the Harvard Mental Health Letter. “If a person could not respond to earlier losses without losing emotional equilibrium, complicated grief becomes a greater danger for him or her.”

Treatment of complicated grief often relies on the idea that grieving is an experience to be worked through. A promising treatment called traumatic grief therapy uses cognitive behavioral methods for symptoms and stress relief, along with interpersonal techniques to encourage re-engagement with the world.

Source: Harvard Mental Health Letter

Complicated Grief Requires Attention

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Complicated Grief Requires Attention. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 17, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2006/10/02/complicated-grief-requires-attention/297.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.