Is there a rehab for complicated grief? When men and women who have lost a loved one are unable to get past the agony and sadness, they may be suffering from complicated grief, a mental health disorder.
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If addressed, this acute and persistent kind of grieving can last forever, even for years, placing patients at risk for a variety of mental and physical health consequences.
However, difficult sorrow responds effectively to psychotherapy, and no one should have to endure continuously its unpleasant and painful symptoms.
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What Is Complicated Grief?
The death of a loved one is an extremely terrible event, and no one recovers fast or easily from such a loss.
Acceptance, on the other hand, should occur at some time, and the depth of the grieving should lessen.
However, sadness can be so deep and overwhelming that its impact does not lessen with time.
In fact, as the months pass, the sensation of loss may get stronger, to the point that it becomes a frequent and most unwanted companion.
When men and women are tormented by memories of their dead loved one and feel the loss as a permanent, debilitating component of their personality, they may be suffering from complex grieving, a mostly unrecognized but nevertheless prevalent mental health disease.
Complicated grieving is not an officially recognized diagnosis as yet. However, the sentiments it evokes are genuine, the consequences are undeniably terrible, and people caught in the grip of continuous, never-ending sadness are unlikely to recover without help.
Watch this video to get a vivid understanding of complicated grief;
Symptoms And Diagnosis Of Complicated Grief
Bereavement has a natural cycle that goes through predictable stages. It will take a different amount of time for each person, but acceptance of the loss should occur at the end.
However, for some people, the mourning process never comes to an end. They get trapped in a state of intense and unresolvable sadness, and their grieving takes on all the features of a chronic mental health problem at this stage.
The signs and symptoms of complicated grief include:
- Never-ending focus on the loss, to the exclusion of everything else
- Feelings of intense, daily longing
- Numbness and feelings of detachment
- Inability to manage daily affairs because of the overwhelming nature of the grief
- Constant feelings that life is meaninglessness
- Irritability, inability to co-exist with others
- Replaying aspects of the person’s death over and over in the mind
- Lack of involvement in the world, spending all non-working hours at home, usually alone
- Bitterness and anger toward the world
- Withdrawal from family life or social activities
- Lack of trust in others, cynicism about people’s good intentions
- Either intense attachment to, or total rejection of, reminders of the departed person
- Negative emotions are constantly triggered by exposure to those reminders, or by memories of the lost loved one
- Suicidal thoughts, feeling like death is the most attractive alternative
If nothing changes, these mourning symptoms can become debilitating and a serious condition that necessitates mental health therapy.
People who have been overwhelmed by sorrow for a lengthy period of time may choose to terminate their own life, therefore discussion of suicide by men and women in grieving should be regarded seriously at all times.
Diagnosing Complicated Grief
Complicated grieving is not an officially recognized diagnosis as yet.
However, an analogous illness (Persistent Complex Bereavement Disorder) is recognized as a “Condition for Further Study” in the most recent version of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).
As research continues to confirm its actuality and impact, it will most likely be acknowledged as a legitimate mental health illness in future editions.
Unofficially, mental health providers can and do identify complex grieving.
For such a diagnosis to be made, three or more of its most distinguishing symptoms must have been present for at least one month and be linked to a death that happened at least six months prior.
Such symptoms are expected to appear in the first few weeks or months after a catastrophic personal loss, but if they persist continuously, complex grieving is most likely to blame.
Causes and Risk Factors
Certain risk factors may predispose a person to be persistently immersed in sorrow following the death of a spouse, parent, child, family member, or close friend.
Among the risk factors are:
- A negative, pessimistic outlook on life
- Multiple losses in a short time
- Dependent personality traits
- Previous incidence of mood disorders (depression, dysthymia, bipolar disorder)
- Isolation and lack of a strong social support network
- The death was entirely unexpected (occurring at a young age, caused by accident or violence instead of illness, etc.)
- Survivor’s guilt (the grieving individual was involved in the fatal incident but survived)
Finally, difficult grieving is unpredictability, and depending on the circumstances, anyone might be vulnerable.
Disorders or Complications That Occur Together
If a person is already suffering from depression or another mood illness when a death happens, they are at a higher risk of experiencing difficult mourning.
Depression, on the other hand, might emerge as a result of complex mourning as a reaction to the mental states it induces.
Depression, regardless of when it appears, will hinder recovery and necessitate additional therapeutic efforts beyond any grief-specific therapy.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is another mental health disease that has been linked to difficult bereavement.
When the circumstances of a loved one’s death are very traumatic, PTSD and difficult grieving may coexist.
In other cases, pre-existing PTSD renders people who have experienced losses more prone to intense and long-lasting grieving.
The link between drug addiction and mental disorders is widely established.
Approximately 40% of men and women with a drug use problem also have a co-occurring mental health issue, demonstrating how frequently persons experiencing mental health symptoms may resort to substances to self-soothe and reduce their misery.
This technique is doomed to fail in the end, and those suffering from severe sorrow can quickly lose control of their drug and alcohol intake if they pursue it, and they may require specialist care.
Prognosis and Treatment
Any sophisticated grief treatment plan will include regular, intensive psychotherapy.
Psychiatrists and psychologists who treat persons suffering from prolonged sorrow will employ strategies similar to those indicated for patients suffering from depression or PTSD (the two disorders that come closest to matching the symptoms of complicated grief).
However, any therapy provided will be specifically tailored to address severe sorrow as a separate and debilitating event with its own set of features.
Patients suffering from severe bereavement can benefit from group treatment, family therapy, and individual therapy.
People who are suffering profound sorrow frequently suffer alone and in isolation, but group and family therapy will allow them to communicate with others who either share their feeling of personal loss or have experienced similar experiences in their own lives and families.
Patients suffering from complex sorrow may require months (or even years) of therapy before showing indications of recovery.
Those suffering from severe sorrow should begin the healing process in a residential, inpatient program developed and conducted by qualified people at a mental health treatment center to boost their chances of recovery.
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