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Posts Tagged ‘holiday depression’

There is always another way

In Education, Health, Holiday, Media, Opinion, psychology, Religion, Uncategorized on December 12, 2016 at 8:55 am

By Gery L. Deer
Deer In Headlines

For some people, maybe even among those close to you, every day can be an emotional struggle. The problem might be not enough money or too little work. Still, others struggle with personal demons, addictions, mental illness, or family difficulties. The list is endless and, often, there is no way out for those fighting such overwhelming internal battles.

edouard_manet_-_le_suicideWhen life becomes too difficult to manage anymore and the odds seem totally stacked against them, some simply choose not to go on. According to the most recent statistics, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, averaging 117 per day. Those are staggering numbers.

Much of the time, a suicide attempt is a plea for help. The sufferer will talk about it, threaten it; even make the attempt. But when someone really wants out, there is rarely a warning or long, dramatic leader – they just do it.

By then, it’s too late to help. Sometimes it’s up to the rest of us to try to recognize and help the individual before it gets that far. Sadly, that doesn’t always work. You can’t help someone who is unwilling, or if there is mental illness or other medical issues in play, the sufferer may not even realize it.

Life can be daunting for someone dealing with these kinds of struggles especially when trying to meet the expectations of others, exhibit self-expression without judgment, or just deal with outside criticism. All of that can really knock joy out of even the happiest of everyday activity. Usually, there is a clinical reason for all of this, whether it’s ever treated or not.

Let me be clear, I’m no psychologist or counselor so I’m speaking generally and colloquially about all of this. But suicide has touched my life on more than one occasion.

I know that for those struggling with severe depression or suicidal thoughts, the world must seem a really dark and unforgiving place. It doesn’t help to lob useless platitudes at someone like that either; it’s neither helpful nor productive.

And the reality of someone considering suicide is not obvious or cliché like it is on some Lifetime TV movie. Someone struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts may not look “sad” or anxious in any way to an observer. People who have to deal with this kind of roller coaster of emotion can learn to hide it pretty well.

Also, expecting or nagging someone to just “snap out of it” is not only impossible it can actually make matters worse. When you do that you may be reinforcing the idea that there’s something wrong with the person, that they’re not “normal.” A caring, nonjudgmental ear can go a long way easing some of the emotional pain.

The truth is, depression and other similar issues are, in fact, perfectly normal. It’s the level and cause of the issue that changes the effectiveness of treatment. But every treatment is dependent on the individual seeking out help – and that can be tough. But suicide is not inevitable. Opening the conversation is a start.

If you’re reading this and know someone who might be dealing with these kinds of issues, there is help available. If that person is you, I have a personal plea – please don’t give up. Think of the people you love and who love you and what you mean to them and what losing you will mean. We all have a much bigger effect on those around us than we realize.

Confide in someone close to you. If there is no one then call a local hotline or visit a nearby support group. You can usually stay anonymous and people can help direct you to where you can get long-term assistance.

If you’re in need of support right now, please don’t give up! If you have no one else or can’t talk to those close to you, then call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. It’s free and confidential.

It might not seem like it, but there is plenty to live for, just take the first step, ask for help, and give it a chance. You have no idea what it will mean to those around you. There is always another way.


Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communication, Ltd. More at deerinheadlines.com.

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



Don’t Sweat the Holidays

In Children and Family, Entertainment, Food, Opinion, Religion, Senior Lifestyle, sociology, Uncategorized on December 11, 2012 at 12:27 pm

hopDeer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

Every year about this time, people wrap up their Christmas shopping, attend uncomfortable social functions and worry about New Year’s resolutions they have no intention of keeping. It’s a stressful time emotionally, financially and socially. In the end, Darwinian Theory incarnate enables one to reach the finish line of January 1st without a nervous breakdown – survival of the fittest, beginning with Christmas parties.

Between family gatherings and holiday office parties, we spend about half our free time in December enduring the company of people we don’t necessarily like or want to be around the rest of the time. The point of all of this unwarranted schmoozing varies depending on your particular position in society.

If you’re a corporate exec hosting an event, you’re expected to make a good show of the holidays, pretending that you’re generous and thoughtful to those whose backs you stepped on in order to get where you are today. As an underling, you’re required to fain some misplaced exposition of loyalty to people who neither appreciate your hard work and long hours nor identify with your problems just trying to make ends meet. Of course, the ridiculous doesn’t stop there.

I debated whether to even mention fruitcake. It seems like a trite and highly over-dramatized topic, but still may warrant some scrutiny. It’s not the actual fruitcake that should be considered, but what it represents. Along with the late Twinkie, the fruitcake has been touted as one of the few sources of food, if you can call it that, which might actually survive after a nuclear disaster.

In truth, the fruitcake is a symbol of the requirement bestowed on today’s society that we give – and give a lot – to people we don’t even like. Now there are people out there for whom fruitcake is a genuine treat, they may be in need of some psychiatric help, but they do exist. But giving the fruitcake because it’s an easy buy in fulfillment of the gift requirement is just ridiculous.

Along with the requisite gifts comes a host of holiday cards clogging the mailbox from people you don’t talk to any other time but to whom you are now suddenly obligated to return the gesture in a never-ending cycle of artificial sentiment. The constant worry over whether to send a “Christmas” card or more generic holiday greeting is maddening. Get over it already. How offensive could it be to receive a note that wishes someone good cheer? Apparently it offends a great many people, but not enough for me to worry about.

Outdoors, we inevitably decorate the house in hopes of being noticed by some neighborhood committee arbitrarily voting on who shelled out the most for new LED light strings, to say nothing of excessive electric bills. In a variation of the “keeping up with the Joneses” mentality, each house along the street progresses with increasing gaudiness, ranging from a lighted reindeer whose flashing lights on its legs make it appear to be running, to two-story, inflatable representations of the Nativity which look like they would be more at home at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. And the list goes on.

Now all of this might seem a little cynical and, at some point, everyone thinks about this stuff but most people would never admit to any of it. We’re generally happy just going along with everything and continuing in the repetitive traditions of our families or friends. In the end, the holidays were meant as a time of celebration but for many they can bring depression, anxiety and frustration. Recognizing the causes of these feelings can be a first step in easing them a bit, before they thoroughly take over.

Some things you just have to accept. There are the haves and the have-nots, along with those who don’t care one way or another. Christmas, Hanukkah, Solstice, or whatever you celebrate, don’t forget the point and, like the saying goes, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.”