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For some, depression darkens the holiday season

In Children and Family, Health, Holiday, Opinion, Senior Lifestyle, sociology, Uncategorized on November 24, 2014 at 1:54 pm

DIH LOGOIt’s never great to lead off with a cliché, but there may really be a silver lining behind every dark cloud. The hard part is that it’s up to the individual to recognize and interpret it. During the holiday season, however, for some the darkness may become overwhelming and everyone else should be sensitive to those around them suffering from seasonal depression.

As the Thanksgiving Day holiday heralds in the Christmas season, it’s important to try to remember that not everyone is happy and cheerful during this time. Many people suffer from various types of clinical depression, exacerbated by the holidays.

Seasonal Affect Disorder, or SAD, is a seasonal pattern associated with a recurring depressive disorder. It’s a fact that people experience mood changes along with the seasons but some may actually experience an even more sever bout during the stressful holiday season.

According to Healthline.com, “Depression may occur at any time of the year, but the stress and anxiety of the holiday season—especially during the months of November and December (and, to a lesser extent, just before Valentine’s Day)—may cause even those who are usually content to experience loneliness and a lack of fulfillment.”

baileygeorgeNot surprisingly, depression during this time can result from loneliness. Healthline.com reports that a 1999 Canadian study of patients treated by emergency psychiatric services during the Christmas season, states the most common stressors were feelings of loneliness and “being without a family.”

Experts also suggest that part of the problem is a level of media bombardment, mostly advertising, that depicts cheerful holiday festivities, smiling families, and so on. The joyful, light-heartedness of the season might to a depressed person seem much more a requirement and painful nuisance than a genuine, heart-felt emotion.

The elderly often suffer from depression caused by any number of contributors including, serious medical problems, poor diet, loss of a spouse, chronic pain and more. Depression may worsen in the elderly, not expressly because of the holiday, but that it brings memories of happier, more fulfilling times, and it might be hard to spot.

Helpguide.org suggests that elderly patients suffering from depression might display rapid mental decline but memory of time and date, as well as awareness of the environment, remain. They may also exhibit more outward concern than usual about slipping memory and their motor skills may be normal but noticeably slower.

Regardless of age, depression is a painful illness to endure at a time of year when the sufferer is surrounded by the usual excitement of the season.  There are many ways to help combat depression.

Social isolation can be a major contributor to depression, particularly during the holidays.  Start by getting involved and being among friends and family wherever possible. Of course, sometimes, family can be the cause of stress. In those instances, it might be better to spend time with close friends or attend some kind of social activity, go to bingo at the local community center, or anything else to avoid being alone. But remember to feel free to leave an event if you feel uncomfortable. Adding stress to depression would be seriously detrimental to the purpose of the interaction.

Other ways to ward off “holiday blues” include, beginning a new tradition, volunteering at local charity centers, or get outside and take a walk or go on a bike ride.  Self-care is an important step to fighting depression. Even with decreased appetite, it’s important to remember to try to eat well, exercise and maintain a regular sleep schedule.

Seek medical treatment as well. General practice doctors can help determine what sort of specialized treatment may be beneficial. Depression is an illness with treatments available to help people live active, involved lives but nothing can happen without taking that first step. Proper treatment may help people have a happier, more meaningful holiday season.

On a final note, although it is a myth that more suicides occur between Thanksgiving and Christmas, those suffering severe depression might still be dealing with suicidal thoughts. Contact one of the local crisis lines, 24/7: Greene County Crisis Services: (513) 376-8702 or Dayton Suicide Prevention Center, Inc.: (937) 297-4777.


Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer based in Jamestown, Ohio. More at gerydeer.com

 

 

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