Important News about Complicated Grief

Two articles of great importance recently came out about Complicated Grief. The first is by Dr. Katherine Shear, who holds the dual appointment of the Marion E. Kenworthy Professor of Psychiatry in Social Work and Professor of Psychiatry at Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons. Dr. Shear is an expert on the diagnosis and treatment of complicated grief—defined as intense grief after the death of a loved one that lasts longer than expected and leads to functional impairment.

Dr. Shear has successfully developed a 16-session treatment for the condition, which, clinical trials show, performs significantly better than supportive psychotherapy.Yet in spreading the word about the diagnosis and treatment of this form of grief, which affects about 2–3 percent of the population (7 percent among bereaved people), Dr. Shear faces the challenge that the treatment of grief, let alone complicated grief, has not been a priority for the  medical community.She is working to change that situation, however, having just now published an article in the January 8, 2015, issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. Below you will find a link to this article. Unfortunately, free versions are not yet available, unless you can access it through a public or medical library.

To access the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) article CLICK HEREshear-nejm

The second article is by the esteemed New York Times health columnist Jane Brody writing about Dr. Shear’s NEJM article and complicated grief in general. Here is one paragraph excerpted from the piece. You can read the whole New York Times article at CLICK HERE.

In a report last month in The New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. M. Katherine Shear presents a composite portrait of what is known as complicated grief, an extreme, unrelenting reaction to loss that persists for more than six months and can result in a serious risk to health. She describes a 68-year-old widow who continued to be seriously impaired by grief four years after her husband died. The woman slept on the couch because she could not bear to sleep in the bed she had shared with him. She found it too painful to engage in activities they used to do together. She no longer ate regular meals because preparing them was a too-distressing reminder of her loss. And she remained alternately angry with the medical staff who cared for him and with herself for not recognizing his illness earlier.

 ANYONE who thinks they are experiencing complicated grief or knows someone who they think might be, should read these articles.

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