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Grieving is the emotional process of slowly coming to grips with a loss. Learn here about the grief therapy techniques that can assist you in the healing process.
How Loss and Grief Can Impact Mental Health
We all experience loss, whether it is the death of a loved one, a pet, a job, or a relationship. When we do, a cascade of difficult emotions is likely to follow. Grief impacts us all in unique ways, and there is no way to predict the fallout from a loss.
Each of us has a certain level of resilience, of how we are able to bounce back from adverse events like a loss. Sometimes, grief can take hold and begin affecting our mental health and ability to function. Some of the ways loss and grief may impact wellness include:
- Persistent low mood.
- Trouble making decisions.
- Mood swings.
- Changes in eating habits resulting in weight gain or loss.
- Sleep disruption.
- Loss of motivation.
- Loss of interest.
- Feelings of anger.
- Physical symptoms like stomach upset or headaches.
- Withdrawing socially.
- Thoughts of suicide.
The grieving process can be extremely difficult for some, which is where grief therapy comes in.
7 Grief Therapy Techniques to Help Manage Loss
Just as grief is a unique experience for each person, so is the way we each respond to therapy. Thankfully, there are several types of grief therapy techniques to help us wind through the grieving process. They include:
- CBT. CBT is a short-term therapy that helps you identify and change unhealthy thoughts and behavior patterns. An example might be that you sink into the feeling of despair and choose to isolate yourself from others. CBT helps you acknowledge the emotion but then remind yourself to choose a more constructive behavioral response.
- ACT. ACT uses mindfulness meditation techniques to help you accept the loss while actively distancing yourself from the negative feelings. By accepting the emotions you are experiencing without judgment, you honor them. Once you take that step you can then make the choice to return to living in the present moment.
- Art therapy. Creative self-expression can be very useful in processing grief. Some may find art therapy to be more helpful compared to regular talk therapy. Through the use of painting, drawing, coloring, crafting or sculpting, the person is able to express their emotions. It also provides a distraction from the grief.
- Complicated grief therapy. CGT addresses the effects of more intensive grief, such as grief that becomes all encompassing in the person’s life. Intense grief called complicated or prolonged grief, can impact health, career, and relationships. CGT helps the person slowly move toward acceptance.
- Group therapy. Grief support groups provide companionship and community during the grieving and healing process. Group therapy offers a space for grievers to feel social support and validation for what they are experiencing.
- Psychodynamic therapy. Grief can bring to the surface old wounds that may keep the person stuck in their sorrow. Psychodynamic therapy focuses on early life experiences and helps the person begin to heal. There may be childhood wounds that were never addressed that are affecting their present life following a loss.
- Prolonged exposure therapy. Sometimes the death occurred due to a traumatic event, such as a car accident or homicide. The effects of the trauma can complicate the grief journey. Prolonged exposure therapy assists the person by helping to reduce the impact of the trauma.
When Grief Leads to Depression
After the loss, there may be a period when you feel you cannot go on. Life seems unbearable after the loss and depression sets in. Get to know the common signs of depression so you can seek out the help you need to manage the symptoms:
- Feeling sad and hopeless most of the time.
- Changes in sleep habits.
- Changes in eating habits.
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions.
- Slowed movements and thinking.
- Loss of interest in usual activities.
- Feelings of shame or guilt.
- Thoughts of suicide.
Don’t allow depression to go untreated. Seek help if five or more symptoms last more than two weeks.
What is Prolonged Grief Disorder?
Prolonged grief disorder is when the grief symptoms are so intense and long lasting that it causes impairment in functioning. For adults, this would be grief still affecting your daily life after twelve months. Prolonged grief may result from a trauma-related death. Symptoms of prolonged grief include:
- Trouble being present in a social setting.
- Identity disruption.
- Having trouble returning to work or functioning at your job.
- Feeling intense emotions, such as anger, bitterness, or sorrow.
- Emotional numbness.
- A marked sense of disbelief that the death has occurred; trouble accepting the loss.
- Intense loneliness.
- Feeling that life has no meaning anymore.
- Avoiding any reminders that the loved one has died.
If you have experienced this type of intense grief for more than a month, it is time meet with a therapist to begin treatment. A mental health retreat is also an excellent setting for someone with prolonged grief disorder.
Finding Help for Managing Grief
Whether you only need a little support or a lot, getting through the grieving process can be aided with some professional help. A mental health expert is trained to identify the level of grief, and co-occurring disorders, such as depression. Once they have made a diagnosis they can then apply the correct treatment.
Grief support is available in many forms. These include:
- Talk therapy.
- Grief support groups.
- Psychiatric help.
- Mental health retreats.
- Residential treatment.
Start the healing process by seeing a mental health provider. From that point, there will be relief ahead and a return to a better quality of life.
Mental Health Hope Provides Mental Health Guidance and Support
Mental Health Hope is a free online resource for those with mental health concerns. People struggling with loss and grief may find the support they need by speaking with our compassionate mental health professionals. If you are seeking grief therapy techniques to assist your grief journey, call us at (877) 967-9274.