An anniversary reaction refers to a person's response on an anniversary of a particularly traumatic event. This can be particularly distressing if it occurs unexpectedly.



(1) The person suffers a significant traumatic event, often the death of a spouse or close relative. It can also occur in soldiers following warfare.

(2) The person has a negative response on an anniversary of the event. This is usually 1 year after the event but may occur at 1 month, 6 months or some other interval. For some people it can occur for years afterwards.

(3) The negative response is usually psychological but also may involve physical illness. Rarely the person may suffer the same illness as the person who died.


Types of psychological responses may include:

(1) grief, sadness and/or depression

(2) anxiety or nervousness

(3) anger or guilt

(4) intrusive thoughts and memories of the event or lost person

(5) mania


Consequences of the reaction:

(1) difficulty coping or impaired performance of usual activities

(2) avoidance of people, places or activities that trigger memories

(3) disturbed sleep

(4) poor appetite

(5) substance abuse

(6) physical illness


Differential diagnosis:

(1) complicated grief reaction


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