Clinical Research

Complicated Grief (CG) is a clinically significant grief reaction that occurs following the death of a loved one.

Complicated Grief

It has also been called at times Traumatic Grief or Pathological Grief. Individuals with CG may find that they are unable to accept the death, and that their feelings remain very strong and persistent. In addition, there may be certain types of disturbing ideas that seem to inhibit the natural process of gradual diminishing grief intensity. Another way of saying this is that grief isn't working and the bereaved person is "stuck" in the grieving process. When this happens, grief intensity remains high and adjustment does not occur.

Complicated Grief is characterized by symptoms including marked depression, anxiety, preoccupation with the deceased, disbelief, longing, anger, guilt, withdrawal, and avoidance that continue for 6 months or more after a loss. These symptoms can cause substantial distress and have been associated with impaired quality of life, poor medical outcomes, and increased rates of suicide.

Standard treatments include medications aimed at specific symptoms such as antidepressants, anti-anxiety medictions, and sleep-aids. Recent studies suggest that antidepressants such as bupropion (Wellbutrin) and paroxetine (Paxil) may help relieve symptoms of CG. There is also a short-term therapy recently developed and still being studied by Dr M. Katherine Shear specifically for complicated grief called "Complicated Grief Therapy."

Brief Questionnaire

Please explore our site to find out more about participating in a treatment study for complicated grief at the Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

If you are interested in participating in a treatment study, please call 1-866-44-WORRY for our confidential phone line or email us at anxietystudy@partners.org.