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Grief Can Compromise Physical and Mental Health

High-risk people may need intervention

FRIDAY, Dec. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Although most people cope with grief without needing any professional intervention, the process of mourning can lead to a range of physical and mental ailments and high-risk groups may require targeted psychological help, according to an article published in the Dec. 8 issue of The Lancet.

Margaret Stroebe, Ph.D., of Utrecht University in the Netherlands, and colleagues reviewed research on bereavement as a risk factor for mortality, physical and mental illness, and also looked at the efficacy of psychological interventions.

The investigators found that although grief is a normal and natural process, it is a risk factor for increased mortality, suicide, physical ailments requiring use of medical services, and psychological ill-health such as anxiety and depression. However, most people cope without professional psychological intervention and routinely recommending grief counseling is not appropriate, the authors note.

There is much research in this field that remains to be done, the authors write. "Some of the most recent studies of the mortality of bereavement are still of spousal loss: the effect of other types of bereavement on mortality has received too little research attention," they conclude. "Likewise, we need to learn more about co-determinants of the poorer outcomes of bereavement."

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