If so, you may be a candidate for a new study at the La Jolla VA
By Dennis Moore
December 6, 2011 (San Diego)--Sidney Zisook, M.D. and his research team at the V.A.San Diego Healthcare System are conducting a research study to find out more about the effectiveness of a medication called Celexa (citalopram) in treating complicated grief. Complicated grief is a bereavement reaction in which acute grief is prolonged, causing distress and interfering with functioning. Symptoms o might include:
• Frequent and distracting memories, thoughts, or images of the person who died
• Feelings of sadness, anger, bitterness, or guilt
• Difficulty accepting that this person is gone
• Avoiding things that remind you of the death
This study, funded by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), and coordinated by Ilanit Young, PhD at the V.A. Hospital in La Jolla, California has helped many grapple with the difficult and painful loss of a loved one, this writer included.
The team members working with Dr. Zisook and Dr. Young are compassionate and sensitive to the needs of those suffering from prolonged and complicated grief.
With me personally, the “Complicated Grief” study coordinated by Dr. Young has been a Godsend. After the recent death of my younger brother Jerome, coming on the heels of the death of my mother, I was an emotional wreck. I recall sitting in a restaurant and listening to a particular song on my Blackberry that both my brother and I had a fondness for, and I started to cry uncontrollably. This would occur on a number of other occasions, until I started participating in the Grief Study and was able to talk through it with Dr. Young and a psychiatrist on their research team.
Katie, another member of the research team at the VA San Diego Healthcare System, would call me periodically to gauge how I was dealing with my grief, asking questions such as suicidal tendencies and if I was experiencing painful thoughts or memories of the death of my mother. This contributed to the overall therapy towards my getting back to a degree of normalcy.
When grief feels unending…
“Some soldiers are inclined to mask their emotions. Any sign of vulnerability or ‘losing’ it can indicate that they are not tough enough to handle combat. Delaying grief may well postpone problems that can become chronic symptoms weeks, months and years later.” – Ilona Pivar, Department of Veterans Affairs
“Nine months after the death of my daughter Cynthia, I was deeply depressed and experienced the world only in ‘shades of grey.’ I knew I was stuck in grief, anxiety and depression, but I saw no way to heal myself and move forward. The only memories of my daughter were those of her pain and suffering at the end of her life. I couldn’t remember happy times from her childhood or young adulthood and I was not motivated to talk to my spouse, family or friends about her. This only served to further my grief, and I knew that I needed help to go on.” This is the experience of another person with Complicated Grief.
As we all are bound to experience some form of grief in our lifetime, be it Complicated Grief or some other form, the research team at the VA San Diego Healthcare System has a program designed to help us get through it and back to some normalcy in life.
Dennis Moore is a member of the San Diego Writers/Editors Guild and he has been a freelance contributor to the San Diego Union-Tribune Newspaper. He is the author of a book about Chicago politics; “The City That Works: Power, Politics, and Corruption in Chicago.” He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can follow him on Twitter at: @DennisMoore8.