Monday, April 22, 2013

Is Grief an Adjustment Disorder?

by Kate Collins

I'm appalled.

Apparently, grieving over the loss of my husband qualifies me to be labeled as having an "Adjustment Disorder." 

Seriously! That's what it says in the fifth edition of the American Psychiatric Association's (APA) diagnostic "bible" – the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders – which will soon be released.

Here are the qualifications:

"Following the death of a close family member or close friend, the individual experiences on more days than not intense yearning or longing for the deceased, intense sorrow and emotional pain, or preoccupation with the deceased or the circumstances of the death for at least 12 months (or 6 months for children). The person may also display difficulty accepting the death, intense anger over the loss, a diminished sense of self, a feeling that life is empty, or difficulty planning for the future or engaging in activities or relationships."

Hello! I went through at least 12 months of that. Those are normal reactions to the death of a loved one. Ask anyone who has gone through it, or anyone who leads a grief support group.

But you see, if grief is normal, then a psychiatrist can’t prescribe a drug for it.

Considering that close to 2.5 million Americans die each year, and the number of people experiencing grief as a result of those deaths is far higher than that, a lot of money can be made from pushing drugs for grief.

Of course there are people who sink into a dangerous depression and may need something to boost their mood temporarily, but that’s not the majority. The loss of someone you love hurts like hell. You can’t dull your senses with drugs to get over it because you don’t get over losing someone close to you. You just learn to move through it and go on. That scar over your heart isn’t going to disappear because a psychiatrist gives you an anti-depressant. Everyone has to deal with grief sooner or later and the longer it’s delayed, the more that person’s life is stuck in a holding pattern.

Want to really get scared? In this new “bible” grief isn’t all that they’re labeling as needing drugs. Consider these “diseases”:
       Do you shop too much? You might have Compulsive Shopping Disorder.
       Do you have a difficult time with multiplication? You could be suffering from Dyscalculia.
       Spending too much time at the gym? You'd better see someone for your Bigorexia or Muscle Dysmorphia.
       And my favorite—are your terrified by the number 13? You could have Triskaidekaphobia!

  I’m just hoping there isn’t a disease for not being able to do algebra.

Have a happy week.


Lover of Books said...

Okay seriously! That is crazy what they're doing now. It's called Grief for a reason. And the other disorders, well yeah they just want to push drugs. We don't need more medication.

Linda Mc said...

You're right, Kate. That is really scary. It's just so they can make more and more money on drugs. Not cool.

Cheryl said...

I wonder if it is their fear of death that drives them. If you can medicate it away then you don't have to feel the pain.

ANNETTE said...

Don't you think that the "let's medicate everyone into oblivion" is one of the situations we have accepted and allowed to become the monster that it is? People do not live life. They figure out a way to avoid the real. Kate, you are a normal woman ( who happens to be very talented as a writer). Human beings are not one size fits all, if we were I would surely not be the size I am. I would go back to being what I once was. And being medicated by alcohol or medications or street drugs, in order to avoid the world is not a very good way to live a life. You are going through the stages of your life, and from what you have shared with us, you are to be admired. You should be proud. Overall, you have been blessed to have lived with someone who gave you such joy. That is a good thing. I reckon there is not a person in the world who could not fit into one of their disorders. So, all we strange and weird will simply hang out together, over here at the "cool kids" lunch table.

Rachelle21 said...

Sometimes, you do need something to get you over the immediate shock of a death. It may not be needed long term. Though it may be more for shock than for grief.