Grief is a normal reaction to a significant loss that may cause
feelings such as sadness and preoccupation with the loss. Grieving is a process
that typically progresses through stages, from becoming aware of the loss, to
feeling and expressing grief, eventually ending with adjustment to the
A person can develop feelings of grief over the loss of a job,
one's good health, an opportunity, or a beloved person or animal. Grieving can
also elicit physical symptoms brought on by the stress of grief and life
adjustment, such as problems eating and sleeping, headache, tightness in the
throat, or body aches and pains. Grieving usually lasts from 2 to 6 months
after a loss, gradually improving with time. But a person may have
episodes of grief for up to 2 years following a loss.
Intense grieving can resemble depression. Long-term grief can lead
to depression, but in most cases a person who is grieving does not have a major
depressive disorder. If symptoms of depression persist without improvement for
more than 2 months during a period of grief, the person should call a doctor.
October 17, 2011
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Sidney Zisook, MD - Psychiatry
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