How Grief Affects Mental Health

How Grief Affects Mental HealthGrief is the natural response to any sort of loss, whether it is a death, divorce, separation, or lost object. Grief is something that all people will experience at some point in their lives and the effects of grief can affect a person’s physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. Grief is a process that one must go through to accept a loss and finally move forward. Grief is processed differently from person to person, and even individuals with the strongest support system and solid coping abilities can feel overcome with the effects.

Grief can uncork a flood of different emotions that may be sporadic and unexplainable. From extreme sadness to anger, a person encounters a great deal of psychological stress throughout the grieving process. Even the healthiest of individuals can feel like they have lost their sanity in times of grief.

Sadness, helplessness, guilt, anger, despair, shock, fear and guilt are just a few very common examples of feelings associated with grief. These feelings can be so strong that they interfere with thought-processes, physical health and everyday functioning.

How Grief and Loss Impact Mental Health Issues

The stress brought on by grief can certainly influence the development of mental health issues. Two of the most common mental health issues associated with grief are depression and anxiety disorders. The brain is affected by psychological and emotional stress and a change in neurotransmitters can cause serious mental health problems.

People who have a difficult time coping with grief can create a lifestyle that predisposes them for several mental health problems. For example, it is common for individuals to distance themselves from others during times of grief. This isolation can influence the development of a mental health disorder. Individuals may also begin to overeat or starve themselves to numb their feelings of loss, which can lead them to develop an eating disorder.

Other Common Effects of Grief and Loss

Even physical effects of grief can affect one’s mental health. Grief and stress will weaken a person’s immune system. A grieving person is more prone to illness, sleep disorders, digestive issues and physical pain, and these issues will often result in mental health problems.

Furthermore, grief can also trigger substance addiction and compulsive behaviors like eating disorders, both considered serious mental health issues. It is very unfortunate, but substance abuse often accompanies grief and loss, especially among those who lack coping skills. Different substances can be used to boost energy, improve mood, induce sleep, relieve anxiety, dull sadness and numb other painful emotions.

Grief can be overwhelming and debilitating, and at times, a person may feel like taking a drug or engaging in compulsive behavior is the only way they will be able to get out of bed or make it through the day. Using drugs to cope with grief is a huge risk because grieving individuals are extremely vulnerable. If a particular substance can relieve stress, numb emotional angst, or get a person to sleep, grieving individuals will likely see this substance as the solution to their problems. Occasional drug use can quickly develop into substance misuse, abuse, physical dependence and eventually addiction.

Substance abuse significantly increases the risk for mental health problems. In times of grief, individuals should avoid substance abuse because it can exacerbate the symptoms of grief as well as trigger several mental health issues like depression, anxiety, personality disorders, psychosis, and more.

Get Help for Mental Health Issues Resulting from Grief

If grief and loss have impacted your health and wellbeing, you can call our toll-free number for help. Our recovery professionals are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in order to assist you. Whether you have questions, need information or would like help finding the treatment and recovery services for your unique needs, we are happy to help. You can overcome grief and move forward with your life, all you have to do is ask for help.