19 1 min 11 yrs

Interesting question raised here;

“Grief is not a mental illness that should be treated with anti-depressants, experts say. In an unsigned editorial in the influential medical journal The Lancet, experts argue that grief does not require psychiatrists and that ‘legitimising’ the treatment of grief with antidepressants ‘is not only dangerously simplistic, but also flawed.’  The debate follows a decision by the American Psychiatric Association to classify grief as a mental illness in a bid to allow to doctors to be more flexible about how early patients can be treated for depression after the death of a loved one. “

Wonder what you reckon? The times in my life when I have known grief have all been associated with death. I never thought I had an illness, just the trauma that we all know comes with losing a loved one. I cannot agree with the American Psychiatric Association, what say you?

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19 thoughts on “IS GRIEF AN ILLNESS?

  1. I suppose that if taken to an extreme it could be a mental illness or at least manifest itself that way.

  2. I remember attending our family doctor’s surgery with a minor medical ailment a few months after my beloved father passed away in 1999. Through the course of my converstaion with one of the doctors in the practice I casually commented that I had been feeling a bit down. The doctor immediately informed me that he would seek a CRUISE bereavement councillor appointment for me and issued me with a prescription for Fluxotine “to help me through in the meantime”.

    In a subsequent visit I spoke to my own doctor, (an old family friend who has treated three generations of my family, including my late father), I explained what had happened with his colleague and how uncomfortable I had been about it. He sat me down and we had a lengthy chat about my father and a few tears were shed by both of us. He told me the best medcine was for me and as many members of my family to get together with a few beers and collectively laugh over the great memories we had and cry over the sorrow we were feeling.

    I cancelled the bereavement councillor appointment & still have the anti-depressant prescription.

  3. There are levels of grief that we experience. Some more overpowering than others. An incident that happened on this side of the pond at Christmas might illustrate it. A woman lost her three young daughters and parents in a house fire that was bascially caused by her boyfriend’s negligence (he removed ashes from a fireplace so Santa wouldn’t burn and left them too close to the house).

    Her grief to me is unimaginable and too imganinable (I’ve been checking the fire alarms in my hosue every night since then).

  4. Paul

    You’re a smart man, and so was your doctor

    I think that andidepressenta are wildly overused. It is a blot on the medical profession, and on the many people who use them as a crutch, often for a lifetime.

  5. Paul – don’t even google it, it is too much.

    Thank you for telling us about how you got through that experience. A considered opinion and well said.

  6. “The debate follows a decision by the American Psychiatric Association to classify grief as a mental illness in a bid to allow to doctors to be more flexible …”

    Nonsense, it’s so quacks can pump more and more drugs into people.

    Grief is a perfectly natural and normal human condition. So is having sex, alot of sex and really alot of sex, sleeping too much and not sleeping enough, each of which is increasingly likely to result in a doctor telling to to swallow powerful chemicals.

    Your child is bored or really bored? That’s ADD or ADHD. Oh look, this Ritalin will calm him down. It’s called the chemical cosh because it alters children’s brains, but that’s good. Take it.

    More and more perfectly normal behaviours and reactions are being pathologised by people who have no business pretending to be doctors.

  7. “Nonsense, it’s so quacks can pump more and more drugs into people”

    If this is true Pete what possible reason could doctors have for this?

    “A lot of sex and really a lot of sex”

    I take it you’re not married Pete? 🙂

  8. Grief is natural. But just because something’s natural doesn’t mean it’s not dangerous. Many people are driven mad by grief, some fall into listless depression for years. Others kill themselves.
    A huge loss can mean for many people the end of all value in life. Some develop a destructive schadenfreude. Children experiencing extreme grief in particular can sometimes become callous and even sadistic in later life.

    One of the saddest stories I’ve ever heard in Ireland is that of the multiple murderer Brendan O’Donnell.

    Otherwise grief, like so many negative emotions, can be a stimulating and positive thing. Where would the world of great works of art, discoveries and inventions be without the stimulation of deep seated grief and disappointment.

  9. There is huge pressure on doctors to make the client happy.

    On all the close calls, the patients get the drugs, I would think.

    It does not mean that doctors are bad.

    The Stones sang ” Mothers Little Helper ” a long time ago. This isn’t new.

  10. Paul McMahon –

    By the way, I know what comes next: “Pete, are you a head doctor?” No, I am not a head doctor. Well, not a qualified one but I know human nature.

    Dr Thomas Szasz is a head doctor and one of the courageous men of our times. Consider again the key line in the post:

    “The debate follows a decision by the American Psychiatric Association to classify grief as a mental illness in a bid to allow to doctors to be more flexible …”

    And then listen to the words of Dr Szasz. It’s only a 3:40 video.

  11. The APA has also proposed defiance as a disorder to be known as Oppositional Defiance Disorder. No doubt there will be some lucrative drug for that.

  12. Nothing comes next Pete it was a genuine question trying to discover your reasoning behind such an assertion.

  13. In many countries, it is illegal to market such drugs on TV, direct to the customer.
    I think that’s good policy.

    In the US, we see these drugs advertised on national TV every single night.

  14. Paul McMahon –

    Sorry, I missed out a “from someone” there. I didn’t have you in mind with that comment.

    I do recommend three minutes watching the Thomas Szasz video.

  15. Grief is simply the name given to the natural display of sadness and longing that we experience when losing a loved one. It can be expressed in many ways and the role of the medical profession and in particular doctor’s who hopefully will havea degree of personal knowledge of the individual patient is to distinguish between that grief (perfectly natural,let it run it’s course) and genuine psychological problems which can still occure related or not to the grief and which may need treatment.

  16. Noel,

    “Grief is natural. But just because something’s natural doesn’t mean it’s not dangerous.”

    Right. And it doesn’t mean it’s useful either. Pain is a natural response, and we have painkillers for that. That said, it seems strange and doesn’t seem necessary to classify grief as a mental illness. Though if there was some pill that helped people through it I don’t see anything wrong with it in principle.

    But I don’t think I’d want it myself, in much the same way as I often would rather not take a painkiller. Sometimes it is important to feel pain (e.g. if you didn’t feel it you might make the damage worse).

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