Loss is a normal and unavoidable part of being human, and grief is an emotion that is caused by loss. The Mayo Clinic explains “grief is a strong, sometimes, overwhelming emotion for people…” Grief affects the human limbic system by disrupting certain brain chemicals (e.g., serotonin and dopamine). Dopamine is the neurotransmitter associated with one’s reward center and feelings of pleasure. Serotonin is known as one of the chemicals responsible for maintaining one’s mood balance. Grief will manifest in each person differently, as there is no single way to grieve. It is important to note that experiencing grief after a loss is healthy and natural.
Signs & Symptoms
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), there is mention of a specific disorder, known as persistent complex bereavement disorder, which is described as an individual who experiences intense symptoms of debilitating grief that does not dissipate in the months following the loss, and lasts beyond twelve months. Though each person is different, there are some common symptoms to be mindful of an may be indicative of an individual who has difficulty with grief management. Below are examples of some of the typical symptoms, provided by the Mayo Clinic:
- Changes in one’s diet
- Social isolation
- Sleep disturbances
- Hyper vigilance
- Challenges at school
- Loss of interest in previously enjoyed pastimes
- Mood swings
- Suicidal ideation
Many of the above signs and symptoms can be typical reactions to experiencing a loss. If, however, the symptoms are prolonged and are inhibiting an individual’s ability to function in his or her everyday life, seeking guidance from a mental health professional may be advantageous.
Can You Be Hospitalized?
The answer to the question of whether one can be hospitalized for grief is variable, as everyone is different. Each person is unique and will process grief and loss distinctly and at their own pace. Although experiencing loss and grief are inevitable when they occur their inevitability does not necessarily make navigating them any less difficult or less complicated. To be effective, the treatment process for grief and loss must consist of a customized treatment plan that is specifically tailored to an individual’s circumstance and nuanced emotional needs. Treatment plans could include a combination of different therapeutic approaches, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), expressive arts therapy, and/ or interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT). Some individuals may benefit from inpatient, intensive care, while other may never need emergency care or hospitalization.
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