Understanding Prolonged Grief Disorder

Dr. Sohail Nibras Psychiatrist Sugar Land, TX

Dr. Sohail Nibras is a psychiatrist practicing in Sugar Land, TX. Dr. Nibras is a medical doctor specializing in the care of mental health patients. As a psychiatrist, Dr. Nibras diagnoses and treats mental illnesses. Dr. Nibras may treat patients through a variety of methods including medications, psychotherapy or talk... more

When feelings of sadness, rage, and grief interfere with your life and last for months or years after losing a loved one, you may be dealing with prolonged grief disorder. A normal reaction to losing a loved one is grief. Most people experience a gradual decrease in their grief symptoms. However, a small group of people continue to feel intense grief affecting their daily lives. This is called prolonged grief disorder (PGD). 

Symptoms of Prolonged Grief Disorder

Many people who have experienced the loss of a loved one may feel intense longing and yearning for the deceased. They may become preoccupied with the loss and find it difficult to accept that their loved one has passed away. These feelings can make it challenging to move on with life and may result in physical symptoms, emotional distress, social isolation, and functional impairment. It is important to seek support and process these feelings in a healthy way.

Why does prolonged grief disorder occur?

Some of the factors that may contribute to the development of PGD include:

The nature of the loss: PGD is more likely to occur after the death of a loved one who was close, such as a spouse, child, or parent, rather than a more distant acquaintance.

The circumstances of the death: PGD may be more likely to occur if the death is sudden, traumatic, or violent.

The person's emotional and psychological state: People with a history of depression, anxiety, or other emotional difficulties may be more likely to develop PGD.

The person's coping mechanisms: People who have difficulty coping with stress or expressing their emotions may be more likely to develop PGD.

Lack of social support: People who lack a supportive network of family and friends may be more likely to develop PGD.

How is prolonged grief disorder diagnosed?

To be diagnosed with PGD, a person must meet the following criteria:

  1. Persistent and intense feelings of grief after losing someone dear.
  2. The presence of at least six of the symptoms as mentioned above.
  3. Symptoms must last for at least 12 months after the loss.
  4. The symptoms make it hard for the person to do everyday things.

A skilled mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or licensed therapist, should only diagnose PGD after conducting a thorough examination.

What are the treatment options for Prolonged Grief Disorder?

There are several treatment options for Prolonged Grief Disorder (PGD), including:

  1. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
  2. Complicated Grief Treatment (CGT)
  3. Medications
  4. Supportive therapy
  5. Group therapy
  6. Others

How to Help a Friend with Prolonged Grief?

If you have a friend who is experiencing Prolonged Grief Disorder (PGD), there are several things you can do to help:

  1. Listen: Offer a listening ear and let your friend talk about their feelings and emotions without judging or interrupting.
  2. Encourage professional help: Suggest that your friend seek professional help from a therapist or counselor who can provide specialized support and treatment.
  3. Be patient: Recovery from PGD can take time, so be patient and understanding.
  4. Offer support: Let your friend know you are there for them and offer to help with practical tasks or provide emotional support.
  5. Help them with their daily routine: Offer to help with chores or other tasks that may be difficult for them to do on their own.
  6. Help them to remember the good times: Share happy memories of the person who died and encourage them to look at pictures and other mementos.
  7. Educate yourself: Learn more about PGD, its symptoms, and how to support your friend to understand better what they are going through.
  8. Be there for them: Let your friend know that you are there for them, no matter what, and that you care about their well-being.