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Dealing With Death Through Behavior Therapy - Complicated Bereavement

Discussion in 'News, Politics & Debates' started by anthony, Oct 20, 2006.

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  1. anthony

    anthony Silently Watching Founder

    Losing a significant other often is the most stressful, and sometimes most traumatic event in one's life. While most people experience bereavement after a loss, many people are overcome by it.

    Researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) have developed a unique treatment for older survivors experiencing what is called "complicated bereavement."

    Complicated bereavement is different from normal bereavement in that it's a condition in people who become too socially isolated as they get into a pattern of avoiding activities with others. They also may experience denial that their significant other has died. About one-third of all persons experiencing a death of a loved one suffer from complicated bereavement. Men take loss of a spouse particularly hard, more so than women. In fact, widowers may die within three years of a loss, said Ron Acierno, Ph.D., who is leading the MUSC study.

    Meanwhile, complicated bereavement has symptoms of major depression combined with anxiety symptoms that resemble a milder version of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

    Funded by a $275,000-treatment development grant from the National Institute of Aging, Acierno's study combines two psychological (non-pharmacological) treatments that are effective for other disorders, and adapts them for complicated bereavement. It is the first in the nation to try this approach.

    MUSC's five-session program applies an adaptation of Behavioral Activation for Depression, a treatment developed by Neil Jacobson, Ph.D., of the University of Washington; and Exposure Treatment for PTSD, a treatment developed by Edna Foa, Ph.D., of the University of Pennsylvania. The MUSC adaptation of Behavioral Activation was facilitated by Carl LeJuez, Ph.D., of the University of Maryland who has modified this treatment for other problem areas and is a consultant on the MUSC grant.

    The treatment requires participants age 55 and older to produce a daily schedule of planned behaviors that include "fun or functional" activities --- such as going to dinner with a friend, or completing tasks that will give a participant satisfaction, such as cleaning the house or paying bills. Importantly, and consistent with exposure treatment for PTSD, the action plan, which is formally written out on a calendar, also requires the individual to identify activities or issues that are being avoided because they remind them of their loss, and to schedule and complete these activities too.

    Source: Medical News Today
    TXbandit likes this.
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