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Affinity Health Sheds Light on the Physical Aspects Of Grief And Healthy Ways To Cope

Affinity Health, a leading provider of affordable medical cover for all South Africans, explores the physical aspects of grief and healthy ways to cope.


How Does Grief Affect the Body Physically?


Coping with the loss of someone or something you love is arguably one of life’s biggest challenges.

About five decades ago, experts noticed a pattern in the experience of grief and summarised this pattern as the “five stages of grief”, which are: denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.


Although grieving isn’t typically thought of as a “full-body experience”, just as grief can affect your mental health and bring about various emotional experiences, it can also impact your physical wellbeing.


Whatever type of loss you’ve suffered, there’s no right or wrong way to grieve. But by understanding the physical disruption grief can bring, you can find ways to boost recovery.


Affinity Health highlights the many ways in which grief can present itself physically.


Grief Increases Inflammation

Various studies confirm that emotional stress increases inflammation, which is at the root of significant health disorders such as heart disease, cancer, obesity, and autoimmunity. Inflammation is also a leading factor in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.


Grief Impacts Heart Health

Due to the release of stress hormones, cardiac issues might develop as part of the grieving process. When people are grieving, their cardiovascular and immune systems are more vulnerable, leading to a rise in cardiovascular disease and cancer rates. Cardiomyopathy, a kind of heart disease, can also be caused by acute stress.


Grief Hammers The Immune System

Your immune system is a complicated collection of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to fight infections. It defends your body from foreign invaders that could cause illness. Grief can impair the immune system, which can lead to disease and disorders.


Grief Can Contribute To Exhaustion

One of the early signs of grief is fatigue and the inability to sleep. Constant feelings of exhaustion keep you from getting up and doing everything you used to do every day. Fatigue can leave your brain exhausted, decreasing your coordination and increasing your risk for accidents.


Grief Can Affect Your Brain

The cognitive effects of grief often interfere with your ability to think clearly, make wise decisions and problem-solve. Studies have shown that short-term memory can be affected by those who are grieving and those who are suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).


A Word On Depression & Anxiety

Depression and anxiety are often a complication of grief. People experiencing depression and anxiety may also suffer from panic attacks, characterised by shortness of breath, chest pain, fear of dying, a feeling of choking, nausea, dizziness, and heat or cold sensations.


Coping and Treatment

If you need assistance, contact your doctor, health care provider, or a mental health expert. In people who are dealing with complicated sorrow, counselling or medication may be advised.


Affinity Health offers members several bereavement services to help survivors cope with the loss of a loved one. These services include telephonic trauma support and counselling by professional and dedicated professionals for traumatic events such as death and PTSD.



About Affinity Health

Affinity Health is South Africa’s leading provider of health insurance, offering you a range of options at affordable rates including access to the widest national provider network. We understand the importance of having medical insurance that meets your needs, your budget, and your lifestyle. Our range of healthcare products are designed to protect you and your family when it matters the most. We strive to give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service at all times. For more information, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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