You may start by contacting your doctor. After your initial appointment, your doctor may refer you to a mental health provider who can help diagnose your symptoms and provide a treatment plan.
Here's some information to help you prepare for your appointment.
What you can do
Before your appointment, make a list of:
- Any symptoms you've been experiencing and for how long. Your doctor will want to know the extent to which these symptoms are affecting your daily life, including work and personal relationships.
- Your key personal information, especially any additional major stress or change you've experienced since your loved one died, such as serious illness, significant family disruptions or financial problems.
- Medical information, including other physical or mental health conditions with which you've been diagnosed.
- All medications, vitamins or other supplements you're taking and the dosages.
- Questions you'd like to ask your doctor.
You may want to ask a trusted family member or friend to be present for your appointment, if possible, to help you remember key information.
For complicated grief, questions to ask your doctor or mental health provider include:
- Do you think my symptoms are more severe than what's typical after a loved one's death?
- Do you think psychological counseling would help me?
- Are medications available that could improve my symptoms?
- What are the possible side effects of those medications?
- What self-care steps are most likely to help me?
- Are there local support groups or online support groups that might help me?
- How long do you expect it will take me to feel better with treatment?
- Will I eventually feel like myself again?
Don't hesitate to ask questions anytime during your appointment.
What to expect from your doctor
A doctor or mental health provider who sees you for possible complicated grief may ask:
Sept. 13, 2014
- How often do you think about your deceased loved one?
- Do you believe you could have prevented your loved one's death?
- Do you ever wish that you had died along with your loved one?
- How well are you functioning in your daily life, such as work, household maintenance and relationships?
- Have you experienced any other major stresses, changes or loss since your loved one died?
- Have you had trouble eating or sleeping since your loved one died?
- How much social support would you say you have, such as from relatives, friends or a church community?
- Have you been diagnosed with any medical conditions?
- Have you been treated for other psychiatric symptoms or mental illness in the past? If yes, what type of therapy was most beneficial?
- Have you ever thought about harming yourself or others?
- Do you drink alcohol or use illegal drugs? If so, how often?
- Conditions for further study: Persistent complex bereavement disorder. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-5. 5th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2013. http://www.psychiatryonline.org. Accessed Aug. 14, 2014.
- Block SD. Grief and bereavement. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Aug. 14, 2014.
- Shear MK, et al. Complicated grief and related bereavement issues for DSM-5. Depression and Anxiety. 2011;28:103.
- Coping with the loss of a loved one. American Cancer Society. http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/emotionalsideeffects/griefandloss/coping-with-the-loss-of-a-loved-one-intro-to-grief-mourning-bereavement. Accessed Aug. 4, 2014.
- Grief, bereavement, and coping with loss (PDQ). National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/supportivecare/bereavement/HealthProfessional. Accessed Aug. 14, 2014.
- Shear MK. Grief and mourning gone awry: Pathway and course of complicated grief. Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience. 2012;14:119.
- Simon NM. Treating complicated grief. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2013;31:416.