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Mind & Mood

Getting stuck in long-term grief

September 1, 2022

Prolonged grief disorder is now a recognized mental health condition.

photo of a woman outside on a gray and foggy day, standing next to a bare tree and looking pensive

When a loved one passes away, we each grieve differently and on our own timeline. When an intense level of grief lasts beyond a year, however, experts now have an official diagnosis for it. In March 2022, the American Psychiatric Association added "prolonged grief disorder" to its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) — the guide clinicians use to diagnose mental health conditions.

"Prolonged grief isn’t just missing your loved one at 12 months. It’s debilitating and interferes with functioning. It exceeds social, cultural, and religious norms," says Sue Morris, a senior psychologist who specializes in bereavement at Harvard-affiliated Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

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