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Grief and Grieving - Treatment Overview

Grief itself is a natural response that doesn't require medical treatment. But sometimes people need help getting through the grieving process.

Initial grief

  • Medicine. During the initial days of grief, anxiety or sleeplessness can make it difficult to function. If you suffer more than a few days of severe agitation, talk to your doctor about whether a short-term prescription sedative medicine can help you. (Doctors disagree about the usefulness of medicines for people who are grieving. Some doctors believe that giving medicines for anxiety or sleep may interfere with the ability to grieve.)
  • Counseling. If you find that obstacles to grieving are making it difficult to function after a loss, talk to a grief counselor, attend a bereavement support group, or both. Counseling and support groups can also help you work through unresolved grief from a past loss.

Chronic grief and complications

If you or someone you know exhibits suicidal behavior (such as thinking you cannot stop yourself from harming or killing yourself), call 911 or other emergency services immediately.

If you find that a major loss has caused complications, such as depression, prolonged anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or severe and prolonged grief, see your doctor and a grief counselor for treatment.

If you have a chronic medical condition that has been made worse by the emotional and physical stress of grief, see your doctor immediately.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    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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