Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Grief can lead to mental illness

The idea that grief can lead to mental illness is controversial in medical and counselling circles. But a new study says that while strong feelings of grief are normal and healthy after the death of someone you love, some people grieve for so long that it becomes a significant mental illness.

The study, by researchers at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), says between 10 and 15 per cent of bereaved people experience an intense, prolonged sadness arising from longing or yearning for the deceased - so much so that their overall health is impaired.

They withdraw socially, become depressed and even suicidal and traditional grief counselling may not be of a great help, according to a UNSW press release.

Fortunately, other recent findings suggest that such people can recover with treatment using cognitive behaviour therapy, an approach already shown to be more effective than medication for a range of psychological problems, including anxiety and traumatic stress.

A team of Sydney researchers and counsellors is now conducting further studies to evaluate the treatment more fully.

"Many grief counsellors resist the idea that we can 'medicalise' grief reactions in this way," said Richard Bryant, lead author.

"The debate has been intensified by increasing evidence that grief counselling is often not effective. In contrast, the introduction of strictly defined disorder opens new opportunities to treat people suffering the effects of prolonged grief."

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails