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Grief and bereavement in adults: Clinical features

M Katherine Shear, MD
Charles F Reynolds III, MD
Naomi M Simon, MD, MSc
Sidney Zisook, MD
Section Editor
Peter P Roy-Byrne, MD
Deputy Editor
David Solomon, MD


Grief is the response to bereavement, which is the situation in which a loved one has died [1]. Natural acute grief reactions are often painful and impairing with emotional and somatic distress, but should not be diagnosed as a mental disorder. However, bereavement is a stressor that can precipitate or worsen mental disorders (eg, unipolar major depression). In addition, complications (maladaptive thoughts, feelings, or behaviors) may occur, such that acute grief becomes intense, prolonged, and debilitating. This condition is called complicated grief, which is viewed as a unique and recognizable disorder that requires specific treatment.

This topic discusses the clinical features of grief and bereavement. The management of grief and bereavement is discussed separately, as is complicated grief, palliative care, and hospice:

(See "Grief and bereavement in adults: Management".)

(See "Complicated grief in adults: Epidemiology, clinical features, assessment, and diagnosis".)

(See "Complicated grief in adults: Treatment".)


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Literature review current through: Sep 2016. | This topic last updated: Dec 31, 2015.
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