Can Grief Make You Sick?

Everyone has experienced grief in their life. It can be caused by the loss of a loved one, a major life change or disappointment, or even a change in the circumstances of life. While grief is a normal and natural emotion that everyone experiences at some point in their life, it can also make you sick. Grief can affect your physical, emotional, and mental well-being, and it is important to understand the effects of grief and how it can impact your life.

Physical Effects of Grief

Grief can affect your physical health in several ways. For starters, it can lead to physical exhaustion and fatigue. You might experience a loss of appetite, or you might overeat or avoid eating altogether. Grief can also impact your sleep patterns, leaving you with sleepless nights or insomnia. More serious physical symptoms of grief can include stomach ailments, headaches, and other chronic conditions that worsen over time.

Grief can also affect your immune system, leaving you more susceptible to illnesses and infections. This is because stress, which is a common symptom of grief, can suppress your immune system, leaving you more vulnerable to illnesses. If you are already recovering from an illness or injury, the physical impact of grief can slow down your recovery process, making it harder for you to regain your health.

Emotional Effects of Grief

Grief can have a devastating impact on your emotions. You might experience intense feelings of sadness, anger, loneliness, or guilt. You might feel numb or disoriented, as if you are in a fog and can’t concentrate. You might also experience mood swings or other emotional disturbances that make it difficult to go about your daily life.

In extreme cases, grief can lead to depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These conditions can have a profound impact on your emotional wellbeing and can make it harder to maintain personal relationships or perform at work. If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to seek help from a mental health professional who can help you navigate your emotions and develop effective coping strategies.

Mental Effects of Grief

Grief can also affect your mental health. You might experience difficulty thinking clearly, making decisions, or remembering important details. You might feel less motivated or less interested in activities that once brought you joy. In some cases, grief can even lead to suicidal thoughts or actions, so it’s important to take your mental health seriously and seek help if you need it.

Coping with Grief

There is no cure for grief, but there are healthy ways to cope with it. The following tips can help you manage your grief and promote physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing:

  • Talk to someone: Whether it’s a friend, family member, or therapist, talking about your feelings can help you process them and feel less alone.
  • Take care of your body: Engage in healthy habits like eating well, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep to support your physical wellbeing.
  • Practice self-care: Do things that make you happy and help you relax, like taking a bath, reading a book, or going for a walk.
  • Join a support group: Connecting with others who have experienced a similar loss can provide comfort and support during a difficult time.
  • Journal: Writing down your thoughts and feelings in a journal can be a therapeutic way to express yourself and process your emotions.
  • Seek professional help: If you are struggling to manage your grief, a mental health professional can provide guidance and support to help you cope with your emotions.

The Bottom Line

Grief is a normal and natural emotion that everyone experiences at some point in their life. However, it can also make you sick, affecting your physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing. If you are struggling to manage your grief, don’t hesitate to seek help from a mental health professional. Coping with grief can be difficult, but with the right support and strategies, it is possible to manage your emotions and move forward in a healthy and positive way.

FAQs

FAQs About “Can Grief Make You Sick”

1. Can grief actually make you physically ill?

Yes, grief can cause a range of physical symptoms including insomnia, loss of appetite, fatigue, weight loss, and even a weakened immune system. These physical symptoms can also increase your risk for developing illnesses such as heart disease or depression. It is important to take care of both your physical and emotional well-being during the grieving process.

2. Are there certain factors that can contribute to the severity of physical symptoms during grief?

Yes, factors such as the suddenness of the loss, the relationship to the deceased, and the amount of social support can all contribute to the severity of physical symptoms during grief. It is important to reach out to loved ones or support groups for help during this time and to seek professional help if necessary.

3. How can I cope with the physical symptoms of grief?

Coping with grief and its physical symptoms can be challenging. However, there are ways you can help yourself feel better such as maintaining a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, and seeking support from friends, family, or a therapist. It is also important to be patient with yourself and give yourself time to heal.


References

1. Mauss, I. B., Cook, C. L., Cheng, J. Y. J., & McCarthy, M. E. (2019). When Grief Makes You Sick: Bereavementā€Induced Systemic Inflammation Is a Key Driver of Persistent Depression. Psychological Science, 30(9), 1343-1354.
2. Wetherell, J. L., Petkus, A. J., Thorp, S. R., Stein, M. B., Chavira, D. A., Campbell-Sills, L., … & Craske, M. G. (2014). Grief, cortisol, and inflammation: prospective, biological, and emotional pathways. Brain, behavior, and immunity, 39, 75-84.
3. Lattanzi, L., Jopp, D. S., & Fingerman, K. L. (2019). Associations between bereavement and urinary cortisol levels among older adults: Evidence from the Health and Retirement Study. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 100, 178-184.