Can Grief Make You Sick?

Grief can have a profound effect on our physical health. Can grief make you sick?

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It has long been believed that grief can lead to physical illness. In fact, the term “grief” was first used in the 14th century to describe a physical condition, characterized by symptoms such as aching muscles and joint pain, that was thought to be caused by sadness.

Today, we know that grief is a natural response to loss, and research has shown that it can indeed have a significant impact on our physical health. Studies have found that grief is associated with a weakened immune system, increased inflammation, and higher levels of stress hormones. These changes can lead to a variety of physical health problems, including:

-Colds and infections
-Digestive issues
-Headaches and migraines
-Heart problems
-High blood pressure
-Sleep problems

It is well documented that grief can have a profound effect on our mental and emotional health. However, can grief actually make us physically sick? It turns out that the answer is yes. Here, we will explore the link between grief and illness and how one can affect the other.


Grief can be a tremendously stressful experience, and prolonged stress can take a toll on your health. While it’s normal to experience some physical symptoms of stress, such as headaches or fatigue, in the weeks or months following a loss, for some people, these symptoms can become more severe and even lead to debilitating health problems.

There is a growing body of research linking grief to illness, and experts believe that grief-related stress may contribute to the development of a number of physical and mental health conditions. These include:

-High blood pressure
-Heart disease


When you’re grieving, you may have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. You may also have nightmares or night terrors. Some people find that they can’t get out of bed and just lie there for hours, trying to fall back asleep. All of this is normal.

If you’re having difficulty sleeping, there are a few things you can try:

-Make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and cool.
-Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bedtime.
-Try to stick to a regular sleep schedule as much as possible.
-Exercise during the day to tire yourself out.
-Don’t watch television or use your computer right before bedtime.
-Try relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation.


When we experience grief, our immune system is weakened and we become more susceptible to illness. According to a study done by the National Institute of Health, individuals who have suffered a loss are more likely to catch a cold or other virus. Grief can also contribute to the development of other health problems, such as heart disease, cancer, and mental health disorders.

While it is normal for our immune system to be compromised when we are grieving, there are things we can do to help protect our health. Eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly can all help boost our immunity. Additionally, talking to a counselor or therapist about our grief can also be beneficial.

How to Manage Grief-Induced Illness

It’s not uncommon to feel run down or even to get sick after a loss. In addition to the emotional toll, grief can take a physical toll on your body. The stress of grief can make you more susceptible to illness and can worsen pre-existing medical conditions. While it’s important to take care of your physical health, it’s also important to be gentle with yourself and give yourself time to heal.

See a Doctor

If you’re grieving and find that your symptoms are preventing you from functioning in your daily life, it’s important to see a doctor. Grief can sometimes lead to physical symptoms that may require medical treatment. For example, if you’re not sleeping or eating, your doctor can prescribe medication to help you manage those symptoms. If you’re having difficulty managing your grief on your own, your doctor can also refer you to a therapist or counselor who can help you through this difficult time.

Get Plenty of Rest

It’s common to have trouble sleeping after you experience a loss. You may have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep throughout the night. You may also find that you are sleeping more than usual. While it’s important to get plenty of rest, you shouldn’t force yourself to sleep. If you can’t sleep, try to engage in calming activities such as reading or listening to soft music. Avoid watching television or using your computer right before bed as the stimulating content can make it harder to fall asleep.

Eat a Healthy Diet

Your body needs nutritious foods to heal. Eating a healthy diet will help your body to function at its best. Include plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in your diet.Limit sugary and fatty foods. These can make you feel worse and can interfere with your healing process. Get plenty of protein to help your body repair tissue damage. Good sources of protein include fish, chicken, beans, and nuts.


You might not feel like it, but exercise can be immensely helpful when you’re grieving. It releases endorphins, which have mood-boosting properties, and can help to alleviate some of the symptoms of anxiety and depression. Exercise is also a great way to distract yourself from your grief and give yourself some time to focus on something else. Even something as simple as going for a walk can make a difference.

Avoid Alcohol and Drugs

Excessive use of alcohol and drugs can compound the effects of grief and make it more difficult to cope. If you find yourself turning to substance abuse to numb your pain, it’s important to seek professional help. There are many resources available to help you cope with your grief in a healthy way.

Seek Counseling or Therapy

It is common to experience physical symptoms after the loss of a loved one. Many times, these symptoms are the result of grief. Grief is a natural reaction to loss, and it can cause a range of physical and emotional symptoms. While it is not an illness, grief can sometimes lead to illness.

There are many ways to cope with grief and its symptoms. One way is to seek counseling or therapy. A therapist can help you understand your grief and provide tools to manage your symptoms. Counseling can also help you process your emotions and work through your grief in a healthy way. If you are experiencing grief-induced illness, counseling may be an option for you.


In conclusion, it seems that grief can indeed make you sick. While the science is still somewhat inconclusive, there is enough evidence to suggest that extreme grief can lead to serious health problems. If you are experiencing grief, it is important to seek help from a professional if you feel like you are struggling to cope.

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