How to know if you have gone from normal grief to pathological grief

The loss of a loved one has a psychological impact that is almost always accompanied by emotional pain. Even when in the first few minutes after hearing the news of death one does not react by expressing feelings in a very intense way, it ends up happening sooner or later in the following hours or days.

This is all natural: feeling extremely sad about the death of a father, sister or daughter is something to be expected and does not indicate the presence of a psychological disorder. However, this discomfort can evolve so much that it ends up leading to a real problem.

Exactly on this topic, we will talk in the following paragraphs: how know when to go from normal grief to pathological grief.

    What is bereavement in psychology?

    In the field of psychology, grief is a phenomenon characterized by a series of feelings and behaviors related to psychological distress that appear sooner or later. after realizing the loss of something that we have experienced a strong emotional connection with emotional or even loving.

    This means that while grief is usually given to knowing that a friend or family member has passed away, it can also arise in a wide variety of situations: suffering from an amputation, moving and losing them. daily relationships with friends, the feeling of aging quickly, the separation from a car that we have had since our youth, and so on.

    After a while, people they get used to living in a world in which what or those they miss no longer exist as memoriesThey turn the page and learn to have the capacity to feel joy and, in general, to be happy. Thus, normal grief (which occurs in the vast majority of cases and leads to a phase of recovery and disappearance of symptoms) can be expressed through these typical symptoms:

    Crying crisis

    It is very common to have times when you cannot stop crying for several minutes.


    The person’s thoughts are focused on remembering past experiences with that person or object who was lost and who is missing. Many times the memories are mixed with the imagination.

      Low mood

      Usually, little motivation is felt to get involved in the tasksAlthough some people try to concentrate on an activity to avoid thinking about what makes them sad.

      Irregular sound pattern

      People who go through a phase of normal bereavement often find it difficult to sleep during normal hours, either because they take a long time to fall asleep or because they fall asleep immediately due to exhaustion but wake up too much. Hour or several times during the night.

      The transition from normal grief to pathological grief: how to recognize it

      Now that we know what grief is in general terms, let’s take a look at a number of key ideas for recognizing when normal grief turns into pathological grief. It should be noted that these are only indicative guidelinesAnd the true diagnosis can only be made by mental health professionals in psychology and psychiatry.

      In any case, it should be noted that although we are talking about this phenomenon of “pathological crying, this does not mean that it is a fact that occurs in isolation in the person, as it could happen with bleeding from the patient. ‘a real sore, nor the one who suffers from this emotional disorder, it is a “mad” person, let alone one who will remain so for life.

      1. The crying attacks are uncontrollable and do not go away

      When after about two weeks the crying attacks occur almost every day and are completely out of control, then they arise unintentionally and unexpectedly even during a work meeting or when taking care of children at school, we can be confronted with pathological bereavement that requires professional attention.

      2. Repeated sleep problems

      If after two weeks there are sleep problems every night, this can damage us physically and psychologically and can therefore be a sign that the duel is taking an excessively intense and harmful course.

      3. Thoughts of suicide appear

      Suicidal ideation is always a warning sign that reveals the presence of possible psychological complications that may progress to a mental disorder. Of course, it depends on the emotional load of these thoughts: It’s not the same to think of suicide as an abstract concept as to imagine yourself committing suicide, to fantasize about the different alternatives in which you can kill yourself, and even to search the Internet for ways to do it. to make death quick and painless.

      4. Social relations begin to deteriorate

      Everyone understands that in a grieving phase it is normal to seek a certain degree of loneliness (although in some cases the opposite is sought). however, if this isolation lasts several weeks and the attitude towards others is indifferent or hostileWe are faced with one of the symptoms of pathological grief.

      What to do?

      The main recommendation to follow in case you suspect that you are experiencing pathological grief is go to the psychologist. In fact, this is something that can also be done in the case of normal grief, as the benefits of psychotherapy are noted whether or not there is an emotional disturbance that can be considered a disorder. .

      But the importance of receiving professional help becomes more evident when grief seriously interferes with our quality of life and threatens to become chronic discomfort. In such cases, quickly cutting this phenomenon allows us to avoid having very painful experiences and that our state of sadness and longing affects other areas of our lives for months.

      At the Institute of Psychode Psychology, it is common to treat people who go through a duel that is too intense, and therefore we know that the right tools are not perfect to go from believing condemned to misfortune, at first, to accepting the loss and moving forward with a constructive mindset after receiving therapy.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Worden, WJ (2004). Bereavement treatment: psychological counseling and therapy. Barcelona: Paidós.

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