What is Persistent Complex Bereavement Disorder or Complicated Grief Disorder?

What is meant by PCBD?

Also known as Persistent Complex Bereavement Disorder, the PCBD is a chronic complicated grief disorder that lasts in a person's life and hinders their daily activities. While death is inevitable, it is never easy to lose the person close to you and therefore grief is a process. But Persistent Complex Bereavement Disorder or PCBD is different from common grief.

Persistent Complex Bereavement Disorder or Complicated Grief Disorder

Persistent complex bereavement disorder (PCBD) or complicated grief disorder takes over the person's mind as a form of grief and does not let go.
While losing someone you love is distressing, and regrettably this is a common feeling experienced by people. A person who experiences the regular process of grief and bereavement may have the feeling of heartache, a period of grief, anger, and guilt. It is possible to move forward as soon as they accept the loss, but the feeling of ease may happen slowly and gradually.

For some people, the loss may be debilitating as there are no improvements seen as the days pass by. This is a disorder called persistent complex bereavement disorder or complicated grief disorder. In this disorder, the painful feelings are severe and enduring that the person experiencing as such will have difficulty tolerating the loss and cannot visualize his or her life without the deceased ones.

Normal Grief vs. Persistent Complex Bereavement Disorder or Complicated Grief Disorder

Through their grieving experience, people follow diverse paths. The timing and order of these stages may differ for each person:

  • The reality of loss should be accepted.
  • Letting yourself experience the pain of death.
  • Resuming life without the deceased person.
  • Establishing healthy relationships.

As you can see, there is normality and regularity in these listed points. You have possibly suffered from persistent complex bereavement disorder or complicated grief disorder if you cannot move through any one of the above mentioned stages after some time. The best remedy is to seek treatment to help you deal with your loss and reclaim the sense of peace and acceptance.

What Can I Do if My Grief Won't Go Away?

If grief worsens over a period of time and causes physical indications such as loss of appetite, poor sleep, weight loss, and suicide thoughts, you may have persistent complex bereavement disorder or complicated grief disorder. Speak with your personal doctor about your emotions.

In most cases, depression may develop together with sadness or normal feeling of loss about grief. While the normal sadness may subside months after as a part of normal grief reaction, depression is different from the sense of normal grief, and can take place at any time. It can even be experienced instantly, and demands treatment for resolution.

Causes of Persistent Complex Bereavement Disorder or Complicated Grief Disorder

The causes of persistent complex bereavement disorder or complicated grief disorder are unknown. Just like in the case of any mental/ psychological health disorders, it involves the environment, inherited traits, your personality, and the natural chemical makeup of your body.

Signs and Symptoms of Persistent Complex Bereavement Disorder or Complicated Grief Disorder

In the beginning months, the signs and symptoms of a normal sorrow takes place. While the signs and symptoms of normal sorrow slowly start to fade, the symptoms of persistent complex bereavement disorder or complicated grief disorder take over or lingers. Persistent complex bereavement disorder or complicated grief disorder is like a phase of regular moaning which will not let you settle down or heal.

Signs and symptoms of persistent complex bereavement disorder or complicated grief disorder may include:

  • Intense pain and sorrow at the thought of the deceased person.
  • Focus solely on the dead person and not doing anything else is a sign or an indication of PCBD.
  • Patient with Persistent Complex Bereavement Disorder or PCBD does not socialize and shows signs of extreme avoidance of other activities.
  • Persistent and intense pining or longing for the deceased.
  • Issues regarding the acceptance of death.
  • Detachment.
  • Bitterness concerning the death.
  • A sad feeling which life holds no purpose or meaning.
  • Patient with persistent complex bereavement disorder or complicated grief disorder might show the symptoms of agitation or irritability.
  • Trust issues.
  • Symptom of Persistent Complex Bereavement Disorder or PCBD includes inability to come back to normal life and repeatedly thinking about the positive thoughts with the deceased person.

If you have recently lost the most important person in your life, call your doctor. Examples of intense feeling are profound disbelief, an intense yearning to the deceased person that you cannot keep up with your activities, and hopelessness.

You may need the assistance from professionals for persistent complex bereavement disorder or complicated grief disorder if you continue to:

  • Withdraw from any social activities.
  • The feeling of deep sadness or experience depression.
  • Constantly blaming oneself or have guilt thoughts.
  • Have difficulty performing normal routines.
  • Has a belief that you could have done something to help your loved one.
  • Losing the sense of life.
  • Wish to die along with the deceased person.
  • Feeling that life isn't valued living without the presence of the dead person.
  • If you have suicide thoughts.

In few cases, people suffering from persistent complex bereavement disorder or complicated grief disorder might think about suicide. If suicide is what you are thinking right now, speak with someone whom you can trust. If you have a feeling that suicidal thoughts are coming your way, call your local emergency or 911 right away. You can also call the suicide hotline number. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in the United States is available at 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255). Call now to speak with your trained analysts and counselors.

Risk Factors for Persistent Complex Bereavement Disorder or Complicated Grief Disorder

The following are the risk factors for persistent complex bereavement disorder or complicated grief disorder:

  • A violent or unexpected death (car accident, suicide or murder of a very dear person.)
  • Child's death
  • Dependent or close relationship to the person who passed away.
  • Lack of a support system is a major risk factor for persistent complex bereavement disorder or complicated grief disorder.
  • History mental health illnesses.
  • Traumatic childhood, such as neglect or abuse is a risk factor for persistent complex bereavement disorder or complicated grief disorder.
  • Lack of adaptability or resilience to changes in life.
  • Other stress factors in life.

Complications of Persistent Complex Bereavement Disorder or Complicated Grief Disorder

Persistent complex bereavement disorder or complicated grief disorder can significantly affect a person holistically: physical, mental and socially. Without proper treatment, complications may include:

  • Anxiety.
  • Major depression is one of the complications of persistent complex bereavement disorder or complicated grief disorder.
  • Suicidal behaviors or thoughts.
  • High possibilities of physical ailments, such as cancer, high blood pressure or heart disease.
  • Lack of sleep because of severe sleep disturbances.
  • Long-term adjustment to daily living.
  • Patients will have complications in establishing relationships as they might feel that these relationships or people will leave them just like the deceased ones.
  • Cannot complete work activities. Patients with persistent complex bereavement disorder or complicated grief disorder develop complications in their day to day life and cannot even complete simple tasks given to them.
  • Addiction to Alcohol or other substances.
  • Stress disorders such as PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
  • Nicotine usage (smoking) is one of the complications for persistent complex bereavement disorder or complicated grief disorder.

Tests to Diagnose Persistent Complex Bereavement Disorder or Complicated Grief Disorder

When there is no improvement over a period of time, the ordinary process of grief will become a persistent complex bereavement disorder or complicated grief disorder. There is no specific lab test to diagnose persistent complex bereavement disorder or complicated grief disorder.

For each person grieving is an individualized process, and figuring out when the normal grief leads to persistent complex bereavement disorder or complicated grief disorder can be tough. Currently, there is no consensus between the experts of mental health about the amount of time is required to pass before the diagnosis of persistent complex bereavement disorder or complicated grief disorder.

In a month's time, when the intensity of the grief has not been decreased following the death of a person, the persistent complex bereavement disorder or complicated grief disorder can be considered. When continuous grief is persistent, debilitating and intense beyond six months, professionals of mental health diagnose persistent complex bereavement disorder or complicated grief disorder.

Between the major depression and persistent complex bereavement disorder or complicated grief disorder, there are many similarities and differences. More often than not, the persistent complex bereavement disorder or complicated grief disorder and clinical depression occur together. For appropriate treatment, getting the proper diagnosis for persistent complex bereavement disorder or complicated grief disorder is crucial.

Your doctor may consider you as the person suffering from persistent complex bereavement disorder or complicated grief disorder related on these following criteria:

  1. The demise of a dear one.
  2. No improvements in the symptoms over a period of time.
  3. The patient is unable to move on with their life.

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Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: June 30, 2016

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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