The Impact of Grief on Mental Health

The Impact of Grief on Mental Health

The impact of grief on a person's mental health cannot be overstated. Grief doesn't just affect mental health. It can also have a profound effect on someone's physical health as well. When someone is feeling the impact of grief, it can feel all-consuming. Grief, they say, is love with no place to go, a sentiment that illustrates the pain people experience when experiencing a loss.

However, despite the impact of grief being painful, it is a natural part of life. It's normal for someone to experience grief when they lose something or someone dear to them. Sometimes, this grief can become severe enough to overtake someone's life for months to even years at a time. It takes specialized and compassionate treatment, such as the treatment found at Driftwood Recovery, to make peace with grief and heal from the pain of loss. To further understand how grief affects us, we must first understand what grief is.

An Overview of Grief

Grief is the pain and anguish we feel after a great loss. Contrary to common knowledge, grief doesn't always come from the death of a loved one. It's also possible to grieve the loss of an experience. For example, a person who was parentified as a child may grieve the loss of their childhood. People may also feel grief over losing a part of themselves. An example of this is someone grieving over the loss of their hair due to chemotherapy treatments. The impact of grief can be felt from losing a job, getting a divorce, losing your independence, and more. All forms of grief are valid, no matter the source.

The impact of grief is especially felt when someone is undergoing a form of complicated grief known as prolonged grief disorder, a condition featured in the DSM-5. It is marked by intense feelings of loss that prevent someone from living a normal life. Sometimes, these symptoms can persist for years and can greatly impact a person's relationships, job, schooling, or daily life.

The symptoms of prolonged grief disorder are:

  • Intense pain, sorrow, anger, rage, and rumination over your loss
  • Difficulty in accepting the loss
  • Detachment or persistent numbness
  • Intense focus on reminders or avoidance of reminders of who/what you have lost
  • Persistent or intense longing or pining for who/what you lost
  • Focusing on little else but your loss
  • Self-destructive behavior, such as substance abuse, self-harm, extreme risk-taking, and suicidal ideation

How long it takes to grieve varies from person to person, but the impact of grief can be felt for years after the loss. Even “normal” grief can seriously affect someone's mental health, even if it is temporary.

The Wide-Scale Impact of Grief on Mental Health

Grief can be felt long after a loss. Sometimes, this grief is intense enough to result in various conditions. Depression is, perhaps, the most common illness or disorder that can develop as a result of grief. Anxiety of any form is another, with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) being likely to develop after a traumatic loss. Thankfully, these disorders can be treated, and a person can recover from them as they complete the grieving process.

The impact of grief can cause several symptoms that are temporary but still take a toll on a person's mental health. Some of these symptoms are:

  • Feeling lethargic, apathetic, or a lack of energy
  • Difficulty falling asleep or sleeping too much
  • Feelings of sadness, emptiness, guilt, loneliness, and anger
  • Difficulty focusing or connecting on tasks
  • Withdrawing from relationships and social interactions
  • Crying or sobbing
  • Questioning parts of your life, such as life goals, religious beliefs, or career choices
  • Appetite changes, such as over-eating or not eating at all

These symptoms can make it temporarily difficult to function in day-to-day life. The impact of grief makes it difficult to get proper rest and nutrition, resulting in the brain and body being unable to heal and nourish itself. It's not uncommon for people who are grieving to suffer from poor health due to the stress grief places on the body. In severe cases, a person may attempt to mask the pain they feel by engaging in substance abuse. When grief is causing serious harm to yourself and others, it's time to seek help.

Lessening the Impact of Grief

Finding help for grief may feel intimidating at first, but there are many treatment providers out there who specialize in guiding their clients through their loss. It may feel like nothing can help, but several treatment options exist to help those who are currently struggling with the impact of grief. At Driftwood Recovery, clients find understanding and compassionate treatment designed to help those who are grieving. They can also find the help they need for other illnesses and disorders associated with grief, such as addiction and depression. You can trust that a treatment provider will never belittle your grief. Instead, you can trust that they will treat you with respect and care.

Grief is not always something a person can process on their own. It's always okay for someone to seek help for their grief, no matter how mild or severe it is. However, it's also important to remember that grief is not a punishment. Part of the impact of grief is to feel negative emotions, guilt being one of them. Willingly subjecting yourself to suffering is not a way to absolve these negative feelings. Instead, be kind to yourself and let professionals help you experience joy and hope again.

Grief is a powerful emotion that can affect us both physically and mentally. When grief becomes overwhelming, it can have a profound negative effect on mental health. It can feel like grief is all-consuming, but anyone can get the help they need to find peace again. Here at Driftwood Recovery in Driftwood and Austin, Texas, clients learn how to cope with their grief healthily. Care is taken to bolster the family so they, too, can get the help they need to support their loved ones through a difficult time. With compassionate and quality treatment, clients find a safe place to heal. If you or a loved one is struggling with their mental health, call (512) 759-8330 today.