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Complications of Grief

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Post-traumatic stress disorder

People who experience a traumatic loss are at risk for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is an intense emotional and psychological response to a very disturbing or traumatic event, such as a rape, assault, natural disaster, accident, war, torture, or death. You can develop PTSD symptoms immediately following such an event. Or PTSD may develop months or even years later.

Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder may include:

  • Persistent and painful re-experiencing of the event through dreams (nightmares) or while awake (flashbacks).
  • Emotional numbness, or inability to feel or express emotions toward family, friends, and loved ones.
  • Avoiding any reminders of the event.
  • Being easily angered or aroused, "on edge," or easily startled (hyperarousal).

Counseling and medicines (such as antidepressants and antianxiety medicines) can be helpful for people who have post-traumatic stress disorder.

Complicated grief

Complicated grief may also be called persistent complex bereavement disorder, separation trauma, traumatic grief, or prolonged-acute grief.

Symptoms include:

  • A preoccupation with the loved one.
  • Excessive loneliness.
  • Longing and yearning for the loved one.
  • Difficulty doing everyday things without the loved one.

Complicated grief is different from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). With PTSD, a person is anxious and fearful that the traumatic event that caused the loss will occur again. In complicated grief, anxiety results because the person is searching and yearning for his or her loved one.

If you or someone you know has symptoms of complicated grief, seek help from a professional counselor specializing in grief counseling.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 12, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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