Grief Regarded as Mental Disorder

Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia), August 2, 2011 | Go to article overview

Grief Regarded as Mental Disorder


Byline: Belinda Tasker of AAP

PEOPLE suffering from long-term grief after the death of a loved one will soon have their condition officially labelled a mental disorder.

Many psychiatrists have argued grief should not be labelled as a mental condition because it is a natural phenomenon that everyone experiences.

However, the next edition of the industry's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders will include a new diagnosis for people still struggling to cope a year or more after a loved one dies.

The condition will be officially known as adjustment disorder related to bereavement.

University of New South Wales psychology professor Richard Bryant, who is on the manual's review committee, said 10 to 15% of people had a persistent grief reaction that could last up to 40 years.

Those most likely to mourn for more than a year included people who lost a child or suffered a loss through suicide and unexpected death such as a road accident or homicide, he said.

C[pounds sterling]People have said it's not right to medicinise grief, which has personal and culturally specific responses and psychiatry is butting in where it doesn't belong,C[yen] Prof Bryant said.

C[pounds sterling]The alternative view is that all of the above is true but we know after a traumatic event a proportion of people will have negative psychological reactions that will affect them. …

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