Your doctor or mental health provider will determine what treatment is likely to work best for you based on your particular symptoms and circumstances.
Complicated grief is sometimes treated with a type of psychological counseling (psychotherapy) called complicated grief therapy. It's similar to psychotherapy techniques used for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Other counseling approaches also may be effective.
During therapy, you may:
- Explore such topics as grief reactions, complicated grief symptoms, adjusting to your loss and redefining your life's goals
- Hold imagined conversations with your loved one and retell the circumstances of the death to help you become less distressed by images and thoughts of your loved one
- Explore and process emotions
- Improve coping skills
- Reduce feelings of blame and guilt
There's little solid research on the use of psychiatric medications to treat complicated grief. However, antidepressants may be helpful in people who have clinical depression as well as complicated grief.
Sept. 13, 2014
- 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.
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