Prolonged grief disorder recognizes intense feelings of loss
MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL (04/26/2022) — A new diagnosis called prolonged grief disorder was recently added to the latest edition of the DSM-5, the diagnostic manual used by mental health professionals.
The diagnosis officially recognizes the group of symptoms associated with intense grief that persist over long periods of time. The need for this diagnosis is perhaps greater than ever as people continue to navigate the countless losses experienced throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fiyyaz Karim, a resident faculty member in the College of Continuing and Professional Studies with expertise in behavioral health and counseling, provides expert comment on how the addition of this diagnosis will help those struggling with loss.
Fiyyaz Karim, Psy.D.
“For many individuals experiencing grief, there might be a bereavement period of emotions, behaviors or cognitive changes. These reactions may reduce over time, but for some, the symptoms of grief persist and impair the individual in one or more areas of their life such as school, work or in their relationships. This is where the grief becomes prolonged or complicated.
The pandemic elicited a wide array of losses for individuals not only due to death and dying but also losses around identity, routine, structure and interpersonal relationships. The isolation associated with the pandemic has further shown the need for a prolonged grief disorder diagnosis to assist in destigmatizing this process.
I believe this is an important step in continuing to normalize the grief experiences individuals go through as a result of loss. It assists in validating the various expressions of grief. The recognition of this disorder will also help practitioners be reimbursed accordingly for providing care around these mental health concerns and aid in the increased research exploring the etiology of grief, diagnostic tools and various forms of treatment. Lastly, it gives a name to the experiences someone may struggle with due to grief and loss.”
Fiyyaz Karim, Psy.D., is a resident faculty member in the master of professional studies in integrated behavioral health and master of professional studies in addictions counseling programs. His areas of expertise include grief and loss, with an emphasis on unemployment, divorce (or relationship losses), chronic illness, addictions and, more recently, losses associated with the pandemic. He has also done mental health work and research in trauma and PTSD, especially with immigrants and refugees.
About the College of Continuing and Professional Studies (CCAPS)
Established in 1913, the College of Continuing and Professional Studies (CCAPS) empowers learners in all stages of life to pursue knowledge, gain experience and see the world in new ways. The CCAPS portfolio of professionally focused courses, webinars and degrees responds to current needs and emerging trends. At its core, CCAPS values access to learning, inclusivity, collaboration and excellence.
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