Complicated Grief

Which of the following statements is true about complicated grief:

a. About one third of bereaved individuals will experience complicated grief
b. Complicated grief is considered to be a subtype of major depression disorder
c. Antidepressants is usually considered the best treatment for complicated grief.
d. Individuals experiencing complicated grief may feel that life is meaningless without the deceased.

The correct answer: D.

Complicated grief (CG) is a debilitating phenomenon in which a bereaved individual demonstrates significant social, occupational, and interpersonal dysfunction. In the past it has been referred to as prolonged grief or pathological grief, but has been relabeled Persistent Complex Bereavement Disorder in the DSM V. One of the commonly agreed upon characteristics is that individuals experiencing CG express feelings that life is empty and meaningless without the deceased (answer D). As a result, they may avoid activities and experiences that remind them of the loss they are grieving. About 10-20% of bereaved patients are thought to experience CG. It is thought to be an attachment disorder rather than a depressive spectrum disorder, although it does share similar symptoms including the ability to trust others since the patient’s death, excessive bitterness or anger since the death, persistent feelings of loneliness and emotional numbness. Cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy is currently thought to be the best treatment for CG. Although many patients are prescribed antidepressants, there is currently no defined role for drug therapy.

Fast Fact #254 Complicated Grief