The loss of a family member or loved one is a universal experience. We will all, most likely, experience the pain of a loss at some point in our lives. Each person experiences grief differently. Working through the process and experiencing grief is essential to being able to move forward with hope and optimism for the future. When the feelings of grief remain too intense and make it difficult to function in your daily activities you may need to seek support and help.
How it feels
Losing someone you love is often indescribably painful. You feel lost and almost like you don’t know what to do with yourself. Everything has changed. Nothing is the same. The longing for your beloved is always there it seems, though it fades in patches over time. There are mixed emotions of sadness, guilt, fear or even anger. Then some days you start to feel better but then wonder if that means you don’t care enough. It sometimes seems like if you stop feeling the pain of grief, you will lose your connection to the person you are missing.
Symptoms and Signs of Grief and Loss
Grief is a complex emotion, which can be expressed in any number of ways. Each loss is unique from the loss of great-grandparent, to the loss of a child, to loss of a friend after a long battle with a terminal illness. Each type of loss will stir up any number of emotions and reactions. Some of the common indicators of grief include:
- Loss, or impending loss of a family member or loved one
- Sadness without relief
- Withdrawal and isolation
- Trouble sleeping
- Poor appetite
- Guilt and regret especially in regards to the loved one
- Denial or disbelief of the loss
- Anger toward self and others
- Spiritual distress including loss of faith
- Physical reactions such as tightness in the throat or chest, muscular weakness, lack of energy
Treatment and Counseling for Grief and Loss
There is no proper or ideal way to grieve death or loss, and there is no predetermined length of time for the grieving process. In some cases grief is not finite, the grief felt for the loss may be permanent, coming and going at different times in your life.
Even so, your grief can become manageable allowing you to return to daily activities, participating in and enjoying your life once again. A therapist can help by guiding you through the grieving process. Culturally sensitive, patient and supportive we know that each loss is unique. We can help you accept the reality of the loss, work through your grief and learn how to move forward with hope and grace while still honoring the memory of your loved one.
About Eating Disorders
Eating disorders are quickly becoming an epidemic in the US, with as many as 24 million people suffering from an eating disorder at any given time. Most sufferers are women but eating disorders are on the rise for every gender and demographic.
The exact cause of eating disorders varies from person to person; there are many known factors that influence the development of an eating disorder:
- By example – women are more likely to develop an eating disorder if their mother or sister has one
- Stress or trauma – patterns for an eating disorder can be brought on by stressful life changes or events
- Pervasive cultural pressure on women to be thin plays a significant role in diminishing self-esteem and creating an atmosphere for eating disorders to flourish
Regardless of the causes, eating disorders are dangerous and possibly fatal. In fact, eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. Thus treatment is critically important.
There are three primary categories of eating disorders: anorexia nervosa, bulimia and eating disorder not otherwise specified (ED-NOS):
- Anorexia nervosa is an obsessive preoccupation with weight loss and the action of eating. Sufferers may refuse to eat, restrict their caloric intake, and many engage in compulsive exercising. These behaviors usually result in extreme weight loss, hair loss, fertility issues, and high risk of organ failure. Anorexia is often characterized by drive for perfectionism and is often accompanied by depression, anxiety or substance abuse.
- Bulimia is characterized by a cycle of binging and purging, or self-induced vomiting. The cycle may also include overuse of laxatives and diet pills, excessive and compulsive exercise and periods of fasting. Bulimics may be able to maintain a normal weight despite their harmful behaviors. They often suffer form poor body image and low self-esteem. People who suffer with bulimia also tend to be secretive and hide their behaviors from family and friends.
- The Eating Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified, or ED-NOS, category includes those who struggle with unhealthy eating patterns but do not meet the specific requirements for anorexia nervosa or bulimia. Symptoms of ED-NOS include unhealthy use of laxative and diet pills, fasting, compulsive exercise, feelings of body dysmorphia, and occasional purging. Some may suffer from the symptoms of both bulimia and anorexia. Both disorders have elements of perfectionism, obsessiveness and are accompanied by feelings of depression or anxiety.
Medical treatment for any eating disorder is imperative and psychotherapy is a crucial component to treatment. At Therapy Today Counseling and Consulting our counselors are experienced in caring for and treating individuals suffering from these debilitating disorders. We can help with:
- Nutritional counseling
- Addressing the psychological roots of the disorder
- Identifying unhealthy behaviors and creating new adaptive patterns
- Identifying and treating co-occurring disorders of depression and/or anxiety