Can Bereavement Be a Mental Illness?

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From an early age we’re taught that death is an important part of life. But that knowledge can be little solace when it comes to coping with the loss of a loved one. Grief can be overwhelming, both emotionally and physically, and the grieving process can sometimes take years to work through. In cases of extreme grief, the American Psychiatric Association is putting forth a recommendation that would, for the first time, give guidelines for a diagnosis of bereavement-related depression. 

The change would appear in the DSM-5 — the APA’s diagnostic manual — which is set to come out in 2013. Journalist Jerry Adler wrote about this subject in connection with the death of his son for New York Magazine. Jerome C. Wakefield, is a professor in the School of Social Work at New York University.