herald

Sunday 17 December 2017

Grieving cannot be treated like depression

Bereaved relatives overcome by grief should not be given pills and treated as if they are clinically depressed, a leading medical journal warns.

"Grief is not an illness," say the editors of journal The Lancet in an editorial, which argues that "medicalising" such a normal human emotion is "not only dangerously simplistic, but also flawed".

Doctors tempted to prescribe pills "would do better to offer time, compassion, remembrance and empathy", they write.



extreme

The editors are worried by moves which appear to categorise extreme emotions as problems that need fixing.

The editors are also concerned about changes proposed by the World Health Organisation, to include a category of "prolonged grief disorder" in its International Classification.

Dr Astrid James, deputy editor of The Lancet, said: "We need to be careful not to overmedicalise experiences that are part of normal living, and to make sure we allow people to grieve rather than try and suppress it or treat it."

hnews@herald.ie

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