Can grief lead to mental illnesses ?

Every individual experiences grief at some point in their life. However, the reaction to grief varies from one individual to another. Can grief lead to mental illnesses ? Dr. Umang Kochhar (Consultant Psychiatrist and Founder, Inner Horizons Psychiatric and Counselling Centre) explains that grief can manifest itself in several ways.

The depth of an individual’s grief depends on their association with the cathected object. The cathected object is something that the individual is attached to. To understand how profound an individual’s grief is, one must consider the intensity of attachment to the cathected object and the severity of the loss felt.

The Holmes and Rahe Stress scale is used to measure stress experienced by an individual. The first element on this scale is the death of a spouse or a partner. An individual’s sense of loss is equivalent to the intensity of their attachment. In some individuals, loss might result in anger and aggression if they believe it is a result of interference from an external element. On some other occasion, an individual might believe themselves to be at fault. Dr. Umang Kochhar recites his experience with a patient in her early 50s who lived with her mother. While at work, her mother got a heart attack and despite the neighbours taking her to the hospital, she, unfortunately, passed away. It has been three years since the incident; however, her daughter still blames herself and under this grief, has tried harming herself. In her case, grief has manifested into severe depression.

Grief is a potent feeling that can take the form of anger, depression, or anxiety. In some cases, patients may also display symptoms of OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) or experience psychosomatic (bodily) reactions such as constant headaches or body aches.

For further details please watch this video.

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