Loss and Grief

Death of parents, siblings, partners, friends, or even children is associated with intense distress for most people.

In psychology, the loss of someone significant is usually called bereavement. Grief is a reaction to bereavement, which may manifest itself in psychological and physical symptoms.

It is very difficult to distinguish between normal and pathological grief, and the majority of bereaved people will manage to come to terms with their grief over time, however there are some people who will experience an extreme overall reaction or over-intensive manifestation of one of the symptoms of grief.

Symptomatology of grief can be divided into affective, behavioral, cognitive, physiological or somatic manifestations:
Affective symptoms may include depression, despair, anxiety, guilt, anger, anhedonia, and loneliness.
Behavioral symptoms may include agitation, fatigue, crying, and social withdrawal.
Cognitive symptoms may include preoccupation with thoughts of the deceased, lowered self-esteem, self-reproach, helplessness and hopelessness, inability to believe in the loss, and problems with memory and concentration.

Physiological and somatic symptoms may include loss of appetite, sleep disturbances, loss of energy and exhaustion, physical complaints similar to those the deceased had endured, drug abuse, and susceptibility to illness and disease.

Earlier research provides solid evidence of biological links between grief and increased risk of morbidity and mortality. Bereaved individuals are at higher risk of depression, anxiety, and other psychiatric conditions, highly susceptible to infections and a variety of other physical illness, due to the considerable weakening of the immune system. Bereaved individuals have higher consultation rates with doctors, use more medication, are more often hospitalized. The risk of mortality is associated with medical conditions in bereavement, as well as with suicide.


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