Monday, December 5, 2022

How grief can affect your health

Sleep Problems
Grief can keep you from getting the regular sleep your mind and body need. You might have trouble going to sleep, or you might wake up often in the night or even sleep too much. Good sleep habits can help. Wind down slowly before bed with something calm like a bath, a book, or breathing exercises, and go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.
Fatigue
The emotional toll of grief can drain your energy. To keep up your strength, be sure to eat enough, even if you don’t feel like it. And exercise — something as simple as a short walk can really help. It’s also good to stay connected with family and friends. And a mental health professional or a support group may be able to give you a sense of connection, along with tools to help you through your grief.
Immune System
There’s some evidence that grief can take a toll on your body’s ability to fight illness and infection, especially if it goes on for a long time. Talk to your doctor or a mental health professional if you’re having trouble coming to terms with your loss.
Inflammation
This happens when your immune system responds to something it sees as a threat and makes tissues in your body swell. It can play a role in heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, asthma, and possibly cancer. There’s evidence that grief is linked to inflammation, and some studies show the more severe the grief, the more serious the inflammation. Exercise and eating right can help you manage it.
Anxiety
The events that cause grief can make you feel like you don’t have control over your life. You might be concerned about your financial future or being alone or the possibility of losing someone else. Some worry is normal, but if your anxiety lasts longer than a few months or gets in the way of your normal work or home life, it may be time to talk to a mental health professional.
Cortisol
This is sometimes called the “stress hormone,” and your body may release more of it than usual into your bloodstream in the 6 months after the loss of a loved one. High levels of cortisol over a long period can raise your chances of heart disease or high blood pressure.

Medically Reviewed by Carmelita Swiner, MD

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