Long-term grief disorder is now a recognised mental health issue.
We all experience grief differently and on our own timelines when a loved one goes away. However, physicians now have a formal diagnosis for it when a high level of grieving persists for more than a year. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5)—the manual used by physicians to make mental health diagnoses—included "prolonged grief disorder" in March 2022.
"Not just missing your loved one after a year counts as prolonged mourning. It hinders function and is incapacitating. " "It goes beyond accepted societal, cultural, and religious standards.
Prevalence and signs
Only people who are grieving the loss of a loved one are considered to have prolonged grief disorder. According to estimates, 7% to 10% of adult bereaved people have the disorder.
The symptoms are extremely specific. A person with extended grief still feels a strong longing or yearning for the person who died or is so consumed by thoughts and memories of the person who died that it gets in the way of their daily life after a year.
Also, for a person to be diagnosed with chronic grief, they must show at least three of the following signs:
Acute anger, bitterness, or sorrow relating to the loss; difficulties re-engaging with life; emotional numbness, especially regarding connection with others; a feeling that life is now worthless; intense loneliness as a result of the death. A feeling that a part of oneself has died.
Other illnesses like depression, PTSD, or drug use can't explain the symptoms better.
The veil of grief can wrap us for a variety of reasons, keeping us lost in another reality. The risk elements are divided into two groups:
circumstances surrounding the death, such as trauma, suddenness, or violence; lack of planning; death of a child or younger person; or death in a hospital intensive care unit; circumstances surrounding the bereaved person, such as a history of mental disorders, such as depression or drug use; other losses in life; or a lack of social support.
Another risk factor for prolonged mourning disorder, particularly for those who have been married for an extended period of time, is having a close or dependent relationship with the deceased. They were raised together and frequently relied on one another for companionship and to perform certain tasks. "When one passes away, the surviving spouse must deal with a lot of change, which can be difficult if they are alone or dealing with other problems.
The typical grieving process may be derailed by such risk factors. Therefore, prevention is crucial.
Prolonged grief disorder might cause health issues if it is not treated. Any form of grief might result in
Inactivity due to chronic stress
missed doctor's appointments
a higher blood pressure level (which raises the risk of stroke).
high levels of cholesterol (which raise the risk of heart disease).
high levels of blood sugar (which raise the risk of diabetes).
abuse of alcohol or drugs.
Grief management begins with self-care — granting oneself permission to grieve and adhering to good lifestyle choices, even if it's as simple as eating one healthy meal each day or taking a little stroll every day. Maintaining relationships with loved ones is also crucial.
A visit to the primary care physician and a consultation with a therapist are two more crucial procedures. Healing is possible if the therapist determines that you truly have chronic grief disorder.
"Having this diagnosis can help someone receive the right treatment and validate their experience. Evidence-based counselling programmes are available to assist individuals with understanding grieving, managing difficult emotions, dealing with avoidance, planning for the future, telling the death's story, and learning to live with reminders . They eventually reintegrate into life.
Check out the Harvard Special Health Report on Grief and Loss (/grief) for more information on how to get over grief.
Photo by Ivan Samkov