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New treatment for extreme grief

Severe grief may be a unique mental disorder, according to a new psychiatric study. People who exhibit prolonged, debilitating grief after a loved one's death often improve markedly upon receiving a novel type of psychotherapy that focuses on finding ways to adjust to the loss, says a team led by psychiatrist Katherine Shear of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

Current psychiatric diagnoses don't include what these investigators refer to as complicated grief. In Shear's view, this condition becomes apparent 6 months or more after the death of a loved one. Symptoms consist of disbelief regarding the death, anger and bitterness over the death, intense yearning for the deceased, and intrusive thoughts about how the loved one died.

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