Complicated grief among individuals with major depression: Prevalence, comorbidity, and associated features

Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders, Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, United States.
Journal of Affective Disorders (Impact Factor: 3.38). 05/2011; 134(1-3):453-8. DOI: 10.1016/j.jad.2011.05.017
Source: PubMed
Growing data suggest that complicated grief (CG) may be common in clinical care settings, but there are few prior reports about CG in outpatients presenting with primary mood disorders.
The present study examined rates of bereavement and threshold CG symptoms (defined as a score ≥ 25 on the Inventory of Complicated Grief scale) in 111 outpatients with major depressive disorder (MDD) and 142 healthy controls participating in a study of stress and depression. Clinical and demographic characteristics were also compared for bereaved individuals with CG (MDD+CG) to those without (MDD-CG). Participants completed structured diagnostic interviews as well as measures of CG, depression, anxiety, exposure to traumatic events, and perceived social support.
Lifetime history of a significant loss did not differ for the MDD and control groups (79.3% vs. 76.1%), but bereaved participants with MDD had higher rates of threshold CG (25.0% vs. 2.8%). Among those with MDD, CG was associated with a higher prevalence of lifetime alcohol dependence, greater exposure to traumatic events, and lower perceived social support. Depressed women, but not men, with CG also had higher rates of panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and posttraumatic stress disorder.
Our findings are limited by the lack of a clinician confirmatory assessment of CG diagnosis, absence of complete information about the nature and timing of the loss, and relatively narrow generalizability.
We found high rates of CG in a group of psychiatric outpatients with chronic MDD, suggesting that patients with depression should be routinely screened for CG.


Available from: Sharon Cohan Sung