"Prolonged grief disorder is a big public health issue," said lead researcher Richard Bryant, a professor of psychology at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia.
"We know that 7 to 10 percent of all bereaved people will develop prolonged grief disorder," he
Prolonged grief disorder leads to mental health problems, suicidal thoughts, poor health behaviors and heart problems, Bryant
The condition is often mistaken for depression, but is very different, he
For the study, Bryant
and colleagues randomly assigned 80 people suffering from prolonged grief disorder to 10 weeks of two-hour group cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) sessions.
Generic grief counseling is not very effective, and many patients are mistakenly treated with antidepressants," Bryant
To overcome the condition, it's important to ensure the right diagnosis is made, he
Then, psychological therapy should be given that encompasses emotional engagement with memories, re-framing beliefs about oneself and one's future, and building new relationships and goals, he
SOURCES: Richard Bryant, Ph.D., professor, psychology, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia; M. Katherine Shear, M.D., professor, psychiatry, Columbia University School of Social Work, director, Center for Complicated Grief, New York City; Simon Rego, Psy.D., director, psychology training, Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York City; Oct. 22, 2014, JAMA Psychiatry, online