What Is Complicated Grief?

What Is Complicated Grief?Grief is a normal part of life that affects every person from time to time. It may result from the death of a family member, friend, or pet, among many other situations. Regardless of what causes a person’s grief, there is a fine line between what is considered healthy and what is considered destructive.

Although grief has no clear timeline, it is considered healthy when it gets better with time. Complicated grief, on the other hand, is a condition where a person’s grief does not improve with time. The associated feelings of sadness, numbness, loneliness, or anger tend to remain strong, even years after the grief began. Often, these feelings are so intense that they interfere with the suffering person’s ability to function normally.

Effects of Complicated Grief

When left untreated, complicated grief can ultimately lead to many consequences. Damaged mental health is one of the most recognized effects of this type of grief. Complicated grief often persists while depression builds up underneath. If this depression becomes severe enough, it can even lead to suicidal thoughts or attempts.

Complicated grief can also lead a person to abuse drugs and alcohol. Substance abuse can occur as a result of many factors associated with this condition. In many cases, a person will use drugs or alcohol to numb out the emotional pain he or she is experiencing. Substances may also be used in response to loneliness, which can occur when people socially isolate themselves due to grief. The use of drugs and alcohol by those with complicated grief can unfortunately make the problem considerably worse. Substances merely mask the grief, which will be exposed at a later time along with added complications from the substance abuse.

Coping with Complicated Grief

Sometimes it can feel like there is no way to overcome grief, especially for those experiencing complicated grief. However, there are several things you can do to cope with the painful experience of grief. First, you must remind yourself that it is okay to feel the way that you do. Many people believe that they should not be suffering from such strong feelings of grief, especially when the grief has occurred for extended periods of time. By consciously suppressing grief, many people end up mentally and emotionally damaged. The best way to accept your grief and work through it is to attend individual therapy.

Many people also find it helpful to express their grief through creative outlets. Playing an instrument, painting a picture, or journaling your thoughts are all great ways to cope with grief. These creative outlets are often especially helpful for those who have trouble expressing their grief through words.

Physical activity is another method that has been shown to help those experiencing grief. Exercise increases the amount of two feel-good chemicals of the brain: dopamine and serotonin. By boosting these chemicals, exercise provides an easy and healthy way to cope with grief. Even getting 30 minutes of exercise a day can have noticeable effects on mood.

Get Help for Complicated Grief

If you or a loved one suffers from complicated grief, please call our toll-free helpline today. Our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day to answer any questions you have about treatments for complicated grief.