Complicated Grief: It’s Issues and Impact on Individuals, Mentally, Physically and Socially.

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Bereavement is a major life stressor that typically causes painful and debilitating symptoms of acute grief; however these commonly progress to restoration of a satisfactory, but changed life. In some individuals this acute grief takes hold and becomes chronically debilitating and it is these symptoms that refer to complicated grief or pathological grief. Complicated grief presents itself with extreme or prolonged symptoms which cause great difficulty for the individual to progress past the loss, negatively impacting their lives longer and with greater intensity than normal bereavement does (Shear, Simon, Wall, et al., 2011). Complicated grief (CG) is also referred to as Prolonged or Pathological grief. During the first few months after a loss, many signs and symptoms of normal grief are the same as those of complicated grief. However, while normal grief symptoms gradually start to fade over a few months, those of complicated grief linger or get worse. Complicated grief is like being in a chronic, heightened state of mourning. This is not to be confused with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which is a severe condition generally caused by a serious and traumatic event. Although there are some similarities between the two, research validates that there are enough differences that researchers continue to push the American Association of Psychiatry to consider including it as a disorder in the next version of the DSM. Currently there is not a grief disorder published in this manual.
The Inventory of Complicated Grief Assessment tool (ICG) was devised by Prigerson, H in 1995, however, still CG is not yet recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, edition 5 (DSM-V), as of May 2013, suggesting that ...

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... goals and a lower perceived likelihood of achieving the goals. They also found that those with more severe CG symptoms reported more goals associated with loss, more goals related to feeling states and less goals related to work/education and relationships. The author concluded that since loss hinges partially on the person’s ability to continue or restore activities that are satisfying or meaningful, it is beneficial for clinicians to help individuals to focus on outward-directed goals versus inward-directed goals (Boelen, 2011).

The loss of a loved one can be life’s biggest stressors As you can see, Complicated or Prolonged Grief can have far reaching and long lasting negative effects in all areas of an individual’s life if left untreated. The inability to seek treatment or move on from their loss can have life altering effects on one’s life course.

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