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Health problems that can develop from grieving include depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and physical illness. If you or someone you know experiences any of the following problems, contact a doctor or mental health professional for counselling, medicine, or both.
Depression is the most common condition that can develop when a person is grieving. It's common in adults who experience a divorce or death of a spouse or child.
Anxiety also is common during the grieving process. But anxiety can last longer than expected. And it can also become intense and include extreme guilt. Anxiety can:
People who have chronic medical conditions may have a recurrence or their symptoms may get worse when they are grieving. Adults who lose a loved one sometimes develop new health problems. Children can also have stress-induced physical problems while grieving.
People who experience a traumatic loss are at risk for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is an intense emotional and psychological response to a very disturbing or traumatic event, such as a sexual assault (rape), assault, natural disaster, car crash, war, torture, or death. You can develop PTSD symptoms right after such an event. Or PTSD may develop months or even years later.
Symptoms may include:
Counselling and medicines can be helpful for people who have PTSD.
Prolonged grief may also be called by other names, such as complicated grief. Symptoms include:
Prolonged grief is different from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). With PTSD, a person is anxious and fearful that the traumatic event that caused the loss will occur again. In prolonged grief, anxiety results because the person is searching and yearning for their loved one.
If you or someone you know has symptoms of prolonged grief, seek help from a doctor or professional counsellor specializing in grief counselling.
Sometimes when grieving, people have thoughts of ending their own lives. If you have been depressed or have had thoughts of suicide in the past, you may be at risk of having suicidal thoughts while grieving.
Talk to someone. Be open about your feelings. Reach out to a trusted family member or friend, your doctor, or a counsellor. You can also call your provincial suicide hotline or Talk Suicide Canada at 1-833-456-4566.
Where to get help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
If you or someone you know talks about suicide, self-harm, a mental health crisis, a substance use crisis, or any other kind of emotional distress, get help right away.
Consider saving these numbers in your phone.
Adaptation Date: 9/11/2023
Adapted By: Alberta Health Services
Adaptation Reviewed By: Alberta Health Services
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