Survivors of Trauma Struggle to Move On From the Loss of Loved Ones

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Summary: PTSD in trauma survivors is associated with an increased risk of complicated grief following the death of loved ones. Complicated grief is marked with symptoms of grief lingering and worsening over time, rather than fading.

Source: APA

Among individuals who survive a trauma that resulted in the loss of a close friend or loved one, symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder can predict complicated grief—a sense of persistent sadness and an inability to cope—years after the trauma, according to research published by the American Psychological Association.

“Grief is a normal response to the loss of someone close, but traumatic losses may severely harm survivors for years,” said Kristin Alve Glad, PhD, a researcher at the Norwegian Centre for Violence and Traumatic Stress Studies and lead author of the study. “Our findings suggest that when treating trauma survivors, targeting symptoms of PTSD early might help them avoid complicated grief later on.”

For most people who experience grief, feelings of distress and bereavement tend to diminish over time, according to Glad. In the case of complicated grief, instead of fading, symptoms can often linger or worsen and can impair or prevent people from living their normal lives.

“Complicated grief has been defined as a persistent, intense yearning, longing and sadness, usually accompanied by insistent thoughts or images of the deceased and a sense of disbelief or an inability to accept the painful reality of the person’s death,” said Glad.

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