Home Health & Food Prolonged grief disorder now a mental health condition, group says

Prolonged grief disorder now a mental health condition, group says

by James Davies

Amarachi Okeh

The American Psychiatric Association has classified prolonged grief disorder as a mental health condition.

According to the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, a volume published by the American Psychiatric Association, prolonged grief disorder is now officially classified as a mental health disorder requiring intervention.

The American Psychiatric Association – an association that defines and classifies mental disorders gave this update in a press statement. 

The American authority on mental health stated that prolonged grief disorder happen when someone close to the bereaved person has died within at least six months for children and adolescents, or within at least 12 months for adults.

The press release explained that in prolonged grief disorder, the bereaved individual may experience intense longings for the deceased or preoccupation with thoughts of the deceased, or in children and adolescents, with the circumstances around the death.

These grief reactions occur most of the day, nearly every day for at least a month. The individual experiences clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning, the association explained.

According to the press releases, “In the case of prolonged grief disorder, the duration of the person’s bereavement exceeds expected social, cultural or religious norms and the symptoms are not better explained by another mental disorder.

“Prolonged grief disorder is the newest disorder to be added to the DSM. After studies dating back several decades suggested that many people were experiencing persistent difficulties associated with bereavement that are substantially prolonged beyond culturally normed expectations, and a two-year process of review and public comment, APA’s Board of Trustees and Assembly approved it last fall for inclusion in the DSM.”

Commenting on the development, the APA President, Vivian B. Pender, M.D, said the current circumstances in which we are living make prolonged grief disorder more prevalent.

“If you’ve recently lost someone close to you, it’s very important to check in with yourself,” she advised, “Grief in these circumstances is normal, but not at certain levels and not most of the day, nearly every day for months. Help is available,” she said.

The American Psychiatric Association, which is the oldest medical association in America, listed some of the symptoms of prolonged grief disorder as: Identity disruption (e.g., feeling as though part of oneself has died). A marked sense of disbelief about the death. Avoidance of reminders that the person is dead. Intense emotional pain (e.g., anger, bitterness, sorrow) related to the death. Difficulty moving on with life (e.g., problems engaging with friends, pursuing interests, planning for the future). Emotional numbness. Feeling that life is meaningless. Intense loneliness (i.e., feeling alone or detached from others).

Including prolonged grief disorder in the DSM-5-TR will mean that mental health clinicians and patients and families alike share an understanding of what normal grief looks like and what might indicate a long-term problem, said APA CEO and Medical Director, Saul Levin, MD, MPA.

According to Levin, “sharing information and increasing awareness about prolonged grief disorder is essential.”

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