Prolonged grief is different from depression and usually consists of a consistent yearning for a deceased loved one. This disorder is generally common among individuals who have lost a romantic partner or a child. It generally happens after violent or sudden deaths, death by accident, suicide, or homicide.
Without proper treatment, this condition tends to persist indefinitely and can lead to problems like suicidal thinking, reduced immune function, substance abuse, and sleep disturbances. In this article, we are going to talk about symptoms, causes, risk factors, and prevention of prolonged grief disorder.
Initially, after the loss of a loved one, the symptoms and signs of normal grief are the same as prolonged grief. However, over time the symptoms of normal grief tend to fade away. Whereas prolonged grief tends to linger and get worse. Below are mentioned some of the symptoms and signs of prolonged grief disorder:
- Persistent and intense pining and longing for the loved one
- Being unable to accept the death
- Detaching from everyday life and focusing just on the death
- Being bitter about the loss
- Avoiding reminders or focusing too much on the memories of the deceased one
- Being unable to trust people
- Thinking and feeling life to be pointless
- Focusing only on the negative aspects of life instead of enjoying life
- Feeling like life isn’t good enough without the loved one
- Blaming yourself for the death or that you could have done something to avoid it
- Withdrawing from people and social activities
- Experiencing deep-sadness all the time
- Wishing you were dead too
No one knows the exact cause of prolonged grief disorder. A person’s environment inherited traits, chemical makeup, and personality might be responsible for this disorder as it is with most mental health disorders.
Various factors are responsible for the development of prolonged grief disorder:
- Childhood traumatic experiences like neglect or abuse
- Violent, unexpected death like murder, accident, or suicide
- Losing friends or support system
- Dependent or close relationship with the deceased person
- Death of a parent or child
- History of PTSD, separation anxiety, or depression
- Any vital financial hardships or life stressors
There are no proper ways to follow to prevent prolonged grief disorder. But counseling and support from caregivers might help people who are at a higher risk of developing prolonged grief disorder.
Having a Strong Support Group
Friends, family, and social groups are a great option if you are going through loss. Their continuous support and your faith will surely help you overcome the loss of your loved one. You might even find a particular support group that is going through the same kind of loss as you are.
Allowing Yourself to Feel the Pain
The main reason why most people tend to get stuck in their sadness is that they don’t feel the pain. Talking about the loss and permitting yourself to cry will help lift the pain.
Counseling helps people deal with the emotions of loss better. It also teaches healthy and proper coping skills. This ultimately helps in preventing the development of any strong negative beliefs and thoughts in the long run.