Hi I'm Hallie Thanks for stopping by to read my blog

Prolonged Grief Disorder ~

Prolonged Grief?? ~

Recently the NY Times published an article regarding a diagnosable disorder that is newly included in the DSM-5-TR, and I have had a few people ask me my thoughts about it so I thought I would share a few of those here.  

According to the American Psychiatric Association, "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." 

Some of the symptoms of prolonged grief disorder are:

  • Identity disruption (e.g., feeling as though part of oneself has died).
  • 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 with reintegration (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).

The duration of time for children and adolescents is 6 months, adults is 12 months.

First and foremost please hear that there is absolutely nothing wrong with getting a diagnosis of disorder. If a diagnosis is necessary on a path of healing, or accepting, than a diagnosis is necessary. Having said that ......I struggle with calling grief a disorder.  

Grief is a normal response to losing someone or something we love. Suggesting that grieving a loved one for longer than deemed to be appropriate based on "expected social, cultural or religious norms" is almost insulting.  Putting a timeline on grief perpetuates an idea that we can get stuck. It feeds the notion that we must "move on" based on someone else's idea of what is appropriate. I do not believe that someone can get stuck in their grief.  We do not EVER get stuck in grief. Sometimes grief lasts a lifetime, and we become strong enough to carry it with us. 

What this diagnosis doesn't do is help to normalize the grief process.  What is doesn't do is contribute to the conversations surrounding loss, or the grief process.  What it could do is shame the griever into silence.  

If, however, this new addition to the DSM-5-TR allows one person to receive the support they need; counseling that otherwise wouldn't be covered by insurance, then great.  The addition to the DSM will have served someone in a helpful way.