Grieving? Don’t overlook potential side effects of your Grief

Stress and grief

Grieving takes a toll on the body in the form of stress. “That affects the whole body and all organ systems, and especially the immune system,” Dr. Malin says. Evidence suggests that immune cell function falls and inflammatory responses rise in people who are grieving. That may be why people often get sick more often and use more health care resources during this period.

But why is stress so hard on us? It’s because the body unleashes a flood of stress hormones that can make many existing conditions worse, such as heart failure or diabetes, or lead to new conditions, such as high blood pressure or heartburn. Stress can also cause insomnia and changes in appetite.

Extreme stress, the kind experienced after the loss of a loved one, is associated with changes in heart muscle cells or coronary blood vessels (or both) that prevent the left ventricle from contracting effectively. It’s a condition called stress-induced cardiomyopathy, or broken-heart syndrome. The symptoms are similar to those of a heart attack: chest pain and …