What is Complicated Grief?

Complicated Grief (CG) is a clinically significant grief reaction that occurs following the death of a loved one.

It has also been called at times Traumatic Grief or Pathological Grief. Individuals with CG may find that they are unable to accept the death, and that their feelings remain very strong and persistent. In addition, there may be certain types of disturbing ideas that seem to inhibit the natural process of gradually diminishing grief intensity. Another way of saying this is that grief isn't working and the bereaved person is "stuck" in the grieving process. When this happens, grief intensity remains high and adjustment does not occur.

What are the signs/symptoms of Complicated Grief?

Complicated Grief is characterized by symptoms including:

            • Longing, yearning
            • Pangs of grief
            • Preoccupation with the deceased
            • Disbelief
            • Anger, bitterness
            • Guilt
            • Withdrawal
            • Avoidance

These symptoms can continue for 6 months or more after a loss can cause substantial distress and have been associated with impaired quality of life, poor medical outcomes, and increased rates of suicide.

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What treatments are available for Complicated Grief?

Standard treatments include medications aimed at specific symptoms such as antidepressants, anti-anxiety medictions, and sleep-aids. There is also a short-term therapy recently developed and still being studied by Dr M. Katherine Shear specifically for complicated grief called "Complicated Grief Therapy" (CGT). CGT is a 16-session targeted psychotherapy which guides people through resolving the complications of grief and revitalizing the natural healing process.

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