Prolonged Grief Disorder – Everything You Need to Know
Prolonged grief disorder is a relatively new diagnosis that has been recently added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5). Few people are familiar with this condition. Even most professional counselors are still learning about prolonged grief disorder. However, we know that it can be beneficial to receive therapy, peer support, and other interventions to start alleviating the feelings of grief. For this reason, it’s essential to increase awareness about this relatively new diagnosis, so more people are able to receive the necessary support. In this blog, we’ll walk through some of the basics about what prolonged grief disorder is, how it’s diagnosed, and the benefits of therapy.
What Is Prolonged Grief Disorder?
Prolonged grief disorder is a condition that involves experiencing more intense and longer-lasting periods of bereavement and grief after the loss of a friend or loved one. For children and teens, this period can be as long as six months, and for adults, this period can last a year or longer.
How Is Prolonged Grief Disorder Diagnosed?
Prolonged grief disorder is diagnosed by mental health professionals based on whether individuals present with a variety of symptoms, including:
- Prolonged periods of intense grief (being preoccupied with thoughts of death all day for at least a month)
- Difficulty accepting the lost loved one is gone, avoiding reminders of the loss, talking about the lost loved one in present tense
- Feeling grief for parts of yourself that have been lost
- Intense emotional responses and/or emotional numbness
- Feeling a sense of hopelessness, helplessness, or meaninglessness
- Experiencing a sense of loneliness or isolation even when spending time with loved ones
Who Is at Risk for Prolonged Grief Disorder?
Anyone of any age can experience prolonged grief disorder after the loss of a loved one. Increased risk for this diagnosis may exist when the lost loved one is a close friend or relative. Early research is also indicating that turmoil in the world over the last few years, including the pandemic, racial violence, war, and natural disasters has also significantly increased the risk for developing prolonged grief disorder.
Does Therapy Help with Prolonged Grief Disorder?
Therapy can be highly beneficial for people who are struggling with prolonged grief disorder or for those who are having difficulty navigating the grieving process in general. During therapy, you can make time to sit with and explore the distressing thoughts and feelings related bereavement, develop skills to manage your difficult emotions and thoughts as they arise, and begin making space to fully inhabit every part of your life again. Therapy is also beneficial to help manage feelings of loneliness and isolation that are common during the grief process.
Is it Difficult to Schedule Counseling Sessions?
At Lansing Counseling, we make scheduling a visit as easy as possible. You can call our East Lansing practice at (517) 333-1499, email [email protected], or complete our simple online request form. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions.
5030 Northwind Dr Suite 101
East Lansing, MI 48823