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How Grief Affects Mental Health

How Grief Affects Mental HealthGrief is a common occurrence that affects most people at some point of their lives through the loss of or separation from a loved one. It can produce a myriad of different emotions and potentially lead to numerous adverse mental health problems. Mentally healthy individuals will commonly experience certain symptoms when they are grieving but these symptoms do not have an overpowering effect for an abnormally extended period of time. Emotional responses to grief that are considered normal can include the following:

  • Anger
  • Confusion
  • Sadness
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Decreased self-esteem
  • Remorse
  • Helplessness
  • Temporary hopelessness
  • Loneliness
  • Frustration
  • Decreased energy or motivation
  • General numbness of emotions
  • Feelings of being misunderstood
  • Developing different values
  • Adopting of a new belief system
  • Wanting to escape by travelling far away and not returning

Normal effects of experiencing grief may also often include trouble sleeping and intense difficulty concentrating on school, work, or other areas of life that require focus. Grief can produce significantly worse effects in some individuals, especially those with a history of mental health disorders such as depression. People already suffering from some form of a mental health disorder can be at greater risk for developing prolonged grief disorder (PGD). PGD is characterized by having an incapacitating response to grief for six months or more after the loss occurred. PGD produces symptoms that make the afflicted person unable to function normally in everyday life and incapable of overcoming the grief. PGD can produce a wide array of different symptoms but commonly include the following:

  • Diminished sense of self
  • Lack of purpose in life
  • Difficulty accepting the loss
  • Inability to trust others
  • Bitterness and intense anger towards the loss
  • Unable to move on in life
  • Life becomes seemingly meaningless
  • Generally disconnected from others

Finding proper ways to cope with grief is essential to overcoming the loss and moving on towards a healthier lifestyle. People experience grief in different ways and thus cope with the grief in different ways as well. Some of the many different ways that people can cope with grief in healthy ways include the following:

  • Crying – It is often avoided by many or seen as a weakness by others but crying is a normal human reaction to grief and often one of the healthiest ways to cope.
  • Time alone – Regularly scheduling and taking time away from distractions to simply meditate can be one of the healthiest ways to keep emotions in check and cope with loss.
  • Time with family – Spending regular time with family members can help in offering and receiving support from each other.
  • Exercise – Remaining active through exercise can effectively help in coping with grief while simultaneously providing other health benefits.
  • Support team – Seeking out and gathering an extensive support team consisting of professionals, friends, colleagues, and family members can be an essential way to successfully cope with grief.

If grief continues to become unmanageable it can be beneficial to seek out professional help in the form of therapy or counseling.

Need Help Finding Treatment for Grief?

If you or someone you love is struggling with grief and needs help please call our toll-free number now. Our admissions coordinators are standing by 24 hours a day in order to help you find a treatment program that will work for you. Get help for grief now. Call us today.