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What is Complicated Grief?

Complicated Grief (CG) is a clinically significant grief reaction that occurs following the death of a loved one. It has also been called at times Traumatic Grief or Pathological Grief. Individuals with CG may find that they are unable to accept the death, and that their feelings remain very strong and persistent. In addition, there may be certain types of disturbing ideas that seem to inhibit the natural process of gradually diminishing grief intensity. Another way of saying this is that grief isn't working and the bereaved person is "stuck" in the grieving process. When this happens, grief intensity remains high and adjustment does not occur.

Complicated Grief is characterized by symptoms including marked depression, anxiety, preoccupation with the deceased, disbelief, longing, anger, guilt, withdrawal, and avoidance that continue for 6 months or more after a loss. These symptoms can cause substantial distress and have been associated with impaired quality of life, poor medical outcomes, and increased rates of suicide.

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The Center for Anxiety and Trauamtic Stress Disorders is located in Boston, Massachusetts