Complications that can develop from
grieving include depression, anxiety, suicidal
thoughts, and physical illness. If you or someone you know experiences any of
the following problems, contact a doctor or mental health
professional for counseling, medicine, or both.
Depression is the most common condition that can
develop when a person is grieving. Depression is common in adults who
experience a divorce or death of a spouse.
High levels of anxiety
Anxiety also is common during the grieving process.
But anxiety can last longer than expected. And it can also become intense
and include extreme guilt. Anxiety can:
- Make you feel like you are losing control of
your emotions. Overwhelming fear is also common.
- Trigger episodes
of physical symptoms (anxiety attacks) that you might mistake for a heart
attack. During an anxiety attack, you are likely to have a feeling of intense
fear or terror, difficulty breathing, chest pain or tightness, heartbeat
changes, dizziness, sweating, and shaking.
Sometimes when grieving, people have thoughts of ending their own
lives. If you have been depressed or have had thoughts of suicide in the past, you
may be vulnerable to having suicidal thoughts while grieving.
Call 911 or other emergency services immediately if you or someone you know is
Any thoughts of suicide must be taken seriously. The threat of
carrying out the plan is very real if a person is thinking about
- Has the means (such as weapons or medicines)
available to harm himself or herself or do harm to another person.
- Has set a
time and place to end his or her own life.
- Thinks that there is no other way
to end his or her pain.
Grieving stresses the body, weakens the
immune system, and in general makes us more prone to
illness, aches, and pains. People who have chronic medical conditions may have
a recurrence or their symptoms may get worse when they are grieving. Adults
who lose a loved one sometimes develop new health problems. Children can also have stress-induced physical problems while grieving, despite
their youth and apparent resilience.