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San Antonio Complicated Grief Treatment

Complicated Grief, Treatment for Complicated Grief, San Antonio Complicated Grief Treatment,

Treatment for Complicated Grief in San Antonio

If you have lost someone close to you, you know the power of grief. Grief can take many forms, from intense sadness to anger and anxiety to physical complications and denial. Generally, when grief follows its natural course, it will become more manageable over time until the person feels sadness at the loss but is able to return to their daily routine and experience happiness and joy.

Taking weeks or months to work through grief is normal, and there can be setbacks along the way. Many people feel as if they’ve taken a step back in the grieving process when birthdays, anniversaries, and other reminders of the passed loved one take place.

Complicated grief, on the other hand, is a condition characterized by an intense and persistent form of grief that does not improve with time and significantly impairs a person’s ability to function in daily life. Unlike typical grief, which gradually lessens as individuals come to terms with their loss, complicated grief persists for an extended period and involves severe symptoms and mental health issues that interfere with normal activities.

Symptoms of Complicated Grief

Individuals with complicated grief may experience:

  1. Persistent, intense sadness: An overwhelming sense of sorrow that doesn’t diminish over time.
  2. Preoccupation with the deceased: Constantly thinking about the person who has died and being unable to focus on anything else.
  3. Difficulty accepting the loss: Inability to come to terms with the death, feeling as though the loss is not real.
  4. Intense loneliness: Feeling detached from others and unable to engage in social or work activities.
  5. Avoidance of reminders: Avoid places, people, or activities that remind them of the deceased.
  6. Bitterness or anger: Feeling angry or bitter about the loss, which can be directed at oneself, others, or the deceased.
  7. Numbness or detachment: Feeling emotionally numb or disconnected from the world.
  8. Trouble moving on: Inability to resume normal life activities, including maintaining relationships or interests.
  9. Physical symptoms: Experiencing physical problems such as headaches, fatigue, or gastrointestinal issues.
Causes and Risk Factors

Complicated grief can happen to anyone, but there are several factors that can trigger it in some people, including:

  • Sudden or violent death: Unexpected or traumatic losses, such as those due to accidents, homicide, or suicide.
  • Close relationship with the deceased: The closer the relationship, the higher the risk, especially in cases of losing a spouse, child, or best friend.
  • Lack of support system: Limited social support and isolation can exacerbate grief.
  • Previous mental health issues: History of depression, anxiety, or other mental health conditions can increase vulnerability.
  • Stressful life events: Concurrent stressful events, such as financial problems or other losses, can compound grief.
  • Unresolved issues with the deceased: Unresolved conflicts or unfinished business with the deceased can complicate the grieving process.
  • Dependency on the deceased: High levels of emotional or financial dependence on the deceased can make adjustment more difficult.
  • Traumatic circumstances of death: Witnessing the death or being involved in a traumatic event surrounding the loss can lead to complicated grief.

In addition, grieving for someone or something that society doesn’t value can be challenging, as you feel as if your grief isn’t as valid. 

How is Complicated Grief Treated?

At Stone River Recovery Center, we understand that addressing complicated grief is best accomplished through a combination of therapeutic approaches aimed at helping individuals process their grief, adapt to their loss, and regain functionality in their daily lives. Here are some of the most effective options:

  1. Complicated Grief Therapy is a specialized form of therapy designed specifically for treating complicated grief. It combines elements of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) with interpersonal therapy and focuses on:
    • Helping individuals to recognize and understand their grief reactions.
    • Encouraging individuals to recount the story of their loss to help process and integrate the experience.
    • Gradually facing avoided situations or activities that remind them of the deceased.
    • Helping individuals identify and pursue personal goals and activities that bring meaning and joy.
  1. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can be effective in addressing the negative thought patterns and behaviors associated with complicated grief. Key components include:
    • Challenging and changing maladaptive thoughts about the loss and oneself.
    • Encouraging engagement in activities that promote a sense of accomplishment and pleasure.
    • Gradual exposure to memories and reminders of the deceased to reduce avoidance behaviors.
  1. Grief counseling provides a supportive space for individuals to express their feelings and navigate the grieving process. It focuses on:
    • Encouraging the expression of grief and sadness in a safe environment.
    • Teaching coping mechanisms to deal with the emotional pain of loss.
    • Strengthening social support networks to reduce feelings of isolation.
  1. Medications, particularly antidepressants, can be prescribed to manage symptoms of depression and anxiety that often accompany complicated grief.  Common medications include:
    • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs): Such as sertraline (Zoloft) or fluoxetine (Prozac), which can help improve mood and reduce anxiety.
    • Benzodiazepines: For short-term relief of severe anxiety or insomnia, though these are generally used with caution due to the risk of dependence.
  1. Group therapy can provide mutual support and understanding from others who are experiencing similar losses. Benefits include:
    • Connecting with others who understand and validate each other’s feelings.
    • Gaining insights and coping strategies from group members.
    • Feeling less alone in the grieving process.
  1. Mindfulness-based interventions and relaxation techniques can help individuals manage the stress and emotional turmoil of grief. These practices include:
    • Mindfulness Meditation: Focusing on the present moment to reduce rumination and emotional distress.
    • Relaxation Exercises: Techniques such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and guided imagery to alleviate physical tension and promote emotional calm.
  1. Providing psychoeducation about the grieving process can help individuals understand their experiences and normalize their reactions. This includes:
    • Understanding Grief: Learning about the natural course of grief and what to expect.
    • Recognizing Complicated Grief: Identifying symptoms and understanding when to seek help.

If substance use disorder is determined to be a factor, the client will be encouraged to begin treatment with a medical detox. After detox, residential or outpatient treatment will be recommended. These programs include individual, group, and family therapy as well as holistic therapies, psychoeducation, and, if relevant, relapse prevention.

Working Through Complicated Grief at Stone River Recovery

Complicated grief is challenging, and it can significantly impact an individual’s well-being. The journey through grief is unique for each person, but with the right support and interventions, individuals can gradually adapt to life without the person or thing that was lost. If you or someone you know is struggling with complicated grief, reach out to our mental health professionals in San Antonio. Let us help you or your loved one find happiness, health, and hope for the future.

What Causes Grief?

It’s important to recognize that loss affects people differently. For some, the loss of a pet may be felt just as fiercely as the loss of a spouse might feel to someone else. A divorce or break-up can cause grief, just as loss of a job, financial stability, a home, or good health can cause grief. If you’re feeling deep sadness about a loss or a change, you’re experiencing grief–no matter how big or small the loss may seem to someone else. And if that sense of loss continues with great intensity after a year or more, you may want to seek professional help. 

What are the Symptoms of Complicated Grief?

Grief can have emotional, physical, and behavioral symptoms. These typically include things like deep sadness and yearning for what was lost, anger, and regret; fatigue, nausea, and muscle tension; and difficulty concentrating and making decisions. If you’ve suffered a loss, it’s important to allow yourself to feel the range of feelings that may arise, without judging them or trying to repress them. Letting yourself feel your emotions and seeking out support from loved ones, professional therapists, and grief and loss support groups can help you process the grief and find a way forward.