Harvard Mental Health Letter

Understanding grief and loss

Sooner or later, everyone will grieve the loss of a close relative or friend. Although grief is nearly universal, it expresses itself in many different ways and at times resembles major depression. Frequent crying spells, depressed mood, sleep disturbances, and loss of appetite are common during the bereavement process, for example. Even so, mental health professionals have typically viewed the process of grieving as a normal response to loss and not an illness to be treated. In this issue of the Harvard Mental Health Letter, we look closely at the nature of grief. Does grief have stages, or is it less linear? What can people do to help themselves? And how does someone know when it's time to get help? We also offer advice for patients and resources for more information.
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