Prolonged Grief and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Following the Loss of a Significant Other: An Investigation of Cognitive and Behavioural Differences
Smith KV., Ehlers A.
<p>Background: Cognitive behavioural pathways to bereavement-related mental health problems such a Prolonged Grief Disorder (PGD) and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are of theoretical and clinical importance. Methods: Individuals bereaved at least six months (N = 644) completed measures of loss-related cognitions and behaviours (i.e. loss-related memory characteristics, negative appraisals, coping strategies, grief resilience, and perceived social disconnection) and measures of PGD and PTSD symptoms. Individuals were assigned to one of four groups depending on probable clinical diagnoses (No-PGD/PTSD, PTSD, PGD, PGD+PTSD). Results: Results indicated that higher loss-related memory characteristics and lower grief resilience increased the likelihood of a clinical problem. The PGD and PGD+PTSD groups reported significantly higher loss-related memory characteristics and appraisals compared to the PTSD group. Social disconnection increased the likelihood of comorbid PGD+PTSD in comparison to any other group. Conclusions: Results indicate the effectiveness of cognitive measures in differentiating PGD from PTSD and points to distinct cognitive pathways to psychopathology following loss.</p>