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The long - and unresolved - goodbye.

The intense grief that follows the death of a loved one may linger for 10 years or more among a substantial number of people seeking psychiatric help, report University of California at San Diego investigators. "Unresolved grief" is associated with complaints of depression and a number of physical symptoms and "can be quite disabling," say psychiatrist Sidney Zisook and his co-workers in the June PSYCHOSOMATICS.

The researchers analyzed responses to an extensive questionnaire completed by 220 new patients seen at an outpatient clinic over a four-month stretch. Most patients came to the clinic requesting some form of "talk therapy." Of the 93 patients who reported the prior death of a first-degree relative, 38 felt they were still experiencing difficulties in dealing with the loss. The majority of deceased relatives were either fathers or mothers. The average time since the deaths was 14 years.

The scientists note that these patients reported significantly more difficulty with feeling depressed or sad and with physical problems such as headaches and sleep disturbances.

Self-reports are inconclusive and do not prove that unresolved grief causes physical and emotional symptoms, caution the researchers. They conclude, however, that lingering grief is "not uncommon" and should be checked for by clinicians when they evaluate new patients.
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Title Annotation:grief following death of loved one
Publication:Science News
Date:Jul 13, 1985
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