August Physician Focus: Complicated Grief

Grief is a universal phenomenon, reaching all of us at one time or another following the loss of a loved one. Most people, after a period of mourning, adapt successfully to the loss and begin to move forward. Some, however, find it much harder to accept the loss and develop what is called complicated grief.

Complicated grief, which can affect a person’s physical and mental health, has just been recognized as a new diagnosis (called “persistent complex bereavement disorder”) in the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or DSM-5. It is the subject of discussion in the August edition of Physician Focus.

Naomi Simon, M.D., (photo, right) Director of the Complicated Grief Program and Director of the Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, joins colleague and program host John Fromson, M.D., (photo, left) Associate Director of the Center, to discuss complicated grief, how it affects individuals, and how it is treated.

The conversation includes such areas as the prevalence of the condition; its characteristics; the differences among complicated grief, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder; the roles of “avoidance” and “isolation” in extending complicated grief; the influence of religious and cultural traditions in dealing with grief; how the diagnosis of complicated grief came to be recognized; and how it is treated.

Physician Focus is available for viewing on public access television stations throughout Massachusetts and also available online at ,  and on iTunes at


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