How Grief Affects Mental Health

How Grief Affects Mental HealthEveryone experiences grief, sadness and loss at some point in life, and many people can eventually move past it. The problem is that, while most people can move forward after the loss of a loved one, other people find that their lives come to a screeching halt due to their symptoms of grief. In fact, grief can exacerbate or lead to alcoholism, even functional alcoholism. Seek help to address both grief and alcohol abuse at the same time.

Symptoms of Grief

Grief profoundly affects mental health, as it can result in the following issues:

  • Anger and suspicion
  • Self-blame
  • Intrusive thoughts about the events leading up to the death
  • Symptoms of major depression
  • Symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder
  • Symptoms of panic disorders

Thoughts, feelings and symptoms related to grief can interrupt daily life and personal relationships. They impact mental health, but these consequences of grief also devastate one’s physical health. For instance, grief may lead to thoughts of suicide: “A New Approach to Complicated Grief,” an article published by the American Psychological Association in 2004, shares that “mortality among surviving spouses in the six months following a loss increases 40 to 70 percent compared with the general population.” When people lack healthy coping skills or ignore their grief symptoms, serious consequences can follow.

How Grief Can Lead to Addiction

People who lack healthy coping skills may abuse drugs or alcohol to numb their feelings of loss. “Incomplete Grief: A Catalyst for Addiction and Recovery,” an article published by the Saint Luke Institute in 2011, shares that many addicts point to, “problematic drinking, gambling, eating or sexual acting out as being triggered or fueled by some major loss which was not sufficiently acknowledged, processed and expressed…Grief can easily become the catalyst for addictive behaviors.” In other words, a life disrupted by grief will become further complicated once dependence and addiction enter the picture. The problematic behaviors discussed in the article destroy mental health and will complicate grief symptoms rather than any real relief.

Treatment for Grief and Drug Abuse

Grief and sadness are unavoidable, but they do not have to derail life; lost loved ones can be remembered without sacrificing mental health and happiness. Therapy can provide an outlet for emotions and help patients establish healthy coping skills, such as acknowledging loss and its accompanying emotions. Talk with one of our admissions coordinators today to learn about resources for grief management, substance abuse and mental health problems. You are not alone in your grief; our staff are here for you 24 hours a day, and all calls are confidential, so reach out to us right now to begin recovery.