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  • Katherine Mackenzie

Grief Guide Part 4: When to Seek Professional Support

Updated: Jun 3

Grief is an intricate journey marked by a myriad of emotions and challenges, yet sometimes, its weight becomes unbearable, hindering our ability to navigate life's daily demands. Knowing when to reach out for professional support can be a crucial step in finding solace and reclaiming stability amidst the turmoil of loss.


Research indicates that approximately 10-20% of individuals may develop complicated grief following the death of a loved one [1]. This form of grief is characterized by persistent and debilitating symptoms that interfere with daily functioning. Signs that it might be time to seek professional help include [2]:


  • Avoiding people and social interactions

  • Isolating oneself from friends and family

  • Struggling to manage routine tasks and responsibilities

  • Difficulty maintaining personal hygiene and attending to household chores

  • Feeling disconnected from others and unable to engage in activities once enjoyed


If you notice that your ability to manage daily functioning is significantly impaired, it's essential to consider seeking therapy. Tasks that were once manageable may suddenly feel insurmountable, leading to feelings of frustration, helplessness, and despair.

Studies have shown that individuals who experience complicated grief are at increased risk for developing depression and anxiety disorders [3]. Therefore, if you find yourself grappling with persistent sadness, overwhelming anxiety, or a sense of hopelessness that pervades your daily life, it's crucial to prioritize your mental health and seek professional support.

Therapy can provide you with the tools and strategies needed to navigate the complexities of grief, manage symptoms of depression and anxiety, and cultivate resilience in the face of adversity [4].


Recognizing when to seek professional support for grief is a vital step in the healing process. If you find yourself avoiding people, isolating, and struggling to manage daily functioning in the aftermath of loss, it's essential to prioritize your mental health and reach out for help. Remember, seeking support is not a sign of weakness but rather a courageous step towards reclaiming your well-being and finding peace amidst the storm of grief.


References:

  1. Bonanno. George A, Bartrop, Kaltman. Stacey. The varieties of grief experience. Clinical Psychology Review  (2001, June 18). https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0272735800000623

  2. Shear, M. K. (2015). Complicated grief. New England Journal of Medicine, 372(2), 153-160.

  3. Katrine B. Komischke-Konnerup et al. ‘Complicated grief reactions’ is an umbrella term covering symptoms of prolonged grief disorder (PGS) and other post-loss complications. (2021, March 28). Co-occurrence of prolonged grief symptoms and symptoms of depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress in bereaved adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Affective Disorders Reports. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2666915321000676

  4. Lichtenthal, W. G., & Cruess, D. G. (2010). Effects of directed disclosure of loss on post-loss adjustment: An efficacy trial. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 78(6), 870-879.

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