Relatives in deep grief can be helped earlier

September 01, 2020

Many relatives who experience severe long-term grief reactions after bereavement have more frequent contact with their general practitioner already prior to bereavement, as well as a higher consumption of antidepressants and sedatives than those who have fewer critical symptoms of grief over time. This suggests that it may be possible to prevent this by catching this group earlier. This is shown by a new research result from Aarhus University.

Each year, 55,000 die in Denmark, many of them following the course of a disease. The majority of these bereavements have an effect on several close relatives. A research project from Aarhus University has now examined both the consumption of medicine and contact to general practitioners (GP) among this group of relatives.

Mette Kjærgaard Nielsen from the Department of Public Health is behind the study.

"We can see that there's a group of relatives who have increased contact with their own GP before the bereavement. Measured by symptoms of grief, such as intense longing and yearning, preoccupation with the loss and a lack of acceptance, these are the ones who find the situation hardest to deal with. This group also has a higher consumption of medicine. This means that during the course of the patient's illness, we already have contact to a group of relatives who appear to be severely psychologically affected," she explains.

Relatives should be traced earlier

The results have just been published in the British Journal of General Practice.

Relatives' grief symptoms were measured before the patient's death, and then six months and three years after the bereavement. In total, 1447 relatives, which is 83 per cent of all those involved in the study, contacted their GP. Among relatives with a constant high level of grief symptoms, even more (92 per cent) had contact with general practice, and this group had a higher consumption of antidepressants and sedatives than the relatives with a constant low level of grief symptoms.

This means that healthcare professionals have contact to - and thus the opportunity to identify - relatives who have a need for support already early in the process.

"It's relevant to follow up on the role of general practice in the case of relatives with a high level of grief symptoms or other psychological strain. There is a need for new studies to show how a preventive effort can be best used to help these relatives," says Mette Kjærgaard Nielsen.

Background for the results

The study is a population-based cohort study of relatives in Denmark. A total of 1735 relatives of patients with a terminal illness have replied to the questionnaire. All of the patients received drug reimbursement terminal subsidy due to the incurable nature of their disease and an expected short life expectancy. The relatives replied to the questionnaire while the terminal subsidy was being received, and then six months and three years after the death of the patient.
The study is financed by the Novo Nordisk Foundation and the Danish Cancer Society.

The scientific article can be read in the British Journal of General Practice


MA, Postdoc, Part-time lecturer Mette Kjærgaard Nielsen
Aarhus University, Department of Public Health -
The Research Unit for General Practice
Tel.: (+45) 4257 7929

Aarhus University

Related Antidepressants Articles from Brightsurf:

Measuring brainwaves while sleeping can tell if you should switch antidepressants
Scientists have discovered that measuring brainwaves produced during REM sleep can predict whether a patient will respond to treatment from depression.

Antibodies: the body's own antidepressants
Antibodies can be a blessing or a curse to the brain -- it all depends on their concentration.

Are some antidepressants less risky for pregnant women?
About one in ten women in Qu├ębec will suffer from depression during pregnancy.

The effect of taking antidepressants during pregnancy
Exposure to antidepressants during pregnancy and the first weeks of life can alter sensory processing well into adulthood, according to research in mice recently published in eNeuro.

Significantly fewer pregnant women take antidepressants
A pregnancy is not always a happy event and as many as 10-15% of pregnant women in Denmark have depressive symptoms.

Antidepressants reduce deaths by more than a third in patients with diabetes
Antidepressants reduce deaths by more than a third in patients with diabetes and depression, according to a study published in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Antidepressants can reduce the empathic empathy
Depression is a disorder that often comes along with strong impairments of social functioning.

Possible link between autism and antidepressants use during pregnancy
An international team led by Duke-NUS Medical School has found a potential link between autistic-like behaviour in adult mice and exposure to a common antidepressant in the womb.

When neurons are out of shape, antidepressants may not work
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the most commonly prescribed medication for major depressive disorder (MDD), yet scientists still do not understand why the treatment does not work in nearly thirty percent of patients with MDD.

Next-generation metabolomics may facilitate the discovery of new antidepressants
Antidepressants have become one of the most commonly prescribed drugs.

Read More: Antidepressants News and Antidepressants Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to