What is prolonged grief disorder (PGD)?

Charles J. Sophy, MD
Adolescent Medicine

Prolonged Grief Disorder (PGD) may occur when normal grief and loss processes appear to become 'stuck' and the symptoms continue unresolved for months and perhaps years.

The nature and closeness of the relationship you had with your loved one (such as the death of a partner, child or parent) and the nature of death (for instance a tragic death) may also prolong the grieving process.

If the usual feelings of disbelief, loss, anguish and bitterness over your loss do not go away after six months or more, and if you have difficulty functioning normally, you may have symptoms of Prolonged Grief Disorder.

General characteristics of PGD may include:

  • Feelings: Anger, sadness, guilt, despair, overwhelm, denial, betrayal, emptiness, etc.
  • Thoughts: This is not real, This is unfair, I will never get over this, It's my fault, etc.
  • Responses: Withdrawal from social groups/events, addictive or reckless behavior, avoidance of places and people or of being alone.
  • General Health: Fatigue, loss of motivation, sleeping problems, loss of appetite, pain and anxiety symptoms.
Prolonged Grief Disorder (PGD) is a disabling intense state of grief that persists for months, or sometimes years. Unable to move forward, paralyzed by the loss and grieving deeply, these individuals are often told by family and friends to get on with their lives. Often, friends and family don't realize that such statements are hurtful. If you know someone that is experiencing prolonged grief, try to show them that you care and are available to help them.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.