What Is Complicated Grief?

What Is Complicated Grief?Complicated grief is a maladaptive response to the death of a loved one. While losing loved ones often precedes periods of sadness, anger or self-blame, these reactions typically fade in time, and most people have coping systems that allow them to move forward in life. However, if grief symptoms persist and interfere with everyday life, complicated grief may be at the root of the problem. Seek help to overcome this problem as soon as possible.

Complicated Grief and Other Mental Health Concerns

The Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide to “Complicated Grief” explains that all grief may lead to symptoms of major depression. People with complicated grief experience the symptoms of depression and possibly posttraumatic stress disorder. Other symptoms of complicated grief include the following issues:

  • Hallucinations
  • Intrusive thoughts of a lost loved one
  • Feelings of loneliness
  • Denial of a loved one’s death
  • Changed relationships with family or friends
  • Anger
  • Wanting to die

These symptoms damage the lives of surviving loved ones. In A New Approach to Complicated Grief, the American Psychological Association (APA) shares that “40 percent of people who lose a spouse experience generalized anxiety or panic syndromes in the first year…Mortality among surviving spouses in the six months following a loss increases 40 to 70 percent compared with the general population.” Complicated grief reduces quality of life and can even impact lifespan.

Treatment for Complicated Grief

The APA shares that around 15 percent of people who lose a close loved one are at risk for complicated grief. If the death is sudden or traumatic, or if the surviving individual was dependent upon the lost loved one, that risk increases. Preexisting mental health concerns also heighten the risk for complicated grief: Harvard Medical School shares that “a person with a history of depression, anxiety disorders, or a personality disorder is more likely to suffer complicated grief after bereavement.” Individuals with preexisting mental health concerns, or those that lack strong coping skills, may struggle with more than sadness.

Traumatic grief therapy helps people recover from loss, but not everyone pursues professional treatment. Ignoring complicated grief may encourage people to abuse drugs so they can mask their pain, but this means they cannot heal, so they may end their own lives. Treatment allows people to move forward after grief while still honoring the memories of a lost loved one.

Ending Sadness and Grief

If you or a loved one wants to heal from loss, let us get you started on the path to wellness. Our admissions coordinators will help you find the right resources for your unique needs. We can assess your needs to match you with integrated treatment that will address your unique needs. All calls are toll free and confidential, and our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day, so please call now.