‘TIS THE SEASON
While many of us look to the holiday season with excitement and anticipation, others look at the colder days and darker evenings with a sense of foreboding. Family expectations, gift giving, shuffling to and fro, all of these can put a damper on the good cheer of the season. Combine that with the limited exposure to sunlight during these months and many experience what’s known as Seasonal Depressive Disorder.
SYMPTOMS OF SEASONAL DEPRESSIVE DISORDER
Whether caused by an increase in stress or fatigue as we navigate the holiday season and its many commitments, or pressures and expectations of upcoming family gatherings, or even loneliness and experiencing holidays without your loved ones, the season may not be merry and bright for everyone. Even those who don’t normally struggle with depression can feel the effects of shorter, darker, and colder days during this time of year and come down with the holiday blues. It’s important that you recognize the symptoms of depression that can creep up amidst all the decorations.
- Tiredness or Lack of Energy
- General Irritability
- Change in Sleep Patterns
- Change in Appetite/Weight Loss or Gain
- Feelings of Guilt or Hopelessness
- Difficulty Concentrating
TIPS TO BEAT THE BLUES
Take care of yourself *year-round*, but especially during the holidays. Don’t let this time of year become something that you dread. Arm yourself with a few strategies that work for you to help combat overwhelming feelings of stress or depression. And remember, No is a complete sentence! You don’t have to be everything to everyone.
- Set reasonable expectations – you don’t have to attend everything. Pace yourself and plan ahead. Set aside specific days for your shopping, cooking and other activities and build in some recovery time before you’ve got to move on to the next activity.
- Drink responsibility. Excessive alcohol intake can add to feelings of stress. Luckily, today’s culture has mocktails side by side with fully loaded drinks, so no one is the wiser if you’re taking a break from the booze!
- Spend time with supportive people, whether it’s family or friends.
- Try something new! Keep the holidays exciting and give back by volunteering, or take advantage of free holiday activities such as driving around to view Christmas lights and decorations.
- Practice self-care and destress during the holidays. Take a relaxing bath, light a candle, practice yoga – whatever your preference, don’t skimp on the me time while you try to please others.
- Talk to a professional. A mental health professional is uniquely equipped to help you navigate this season, helping you to talk through your symptoms and provide you with additional tools to combat stress and anxiety.
THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR?
Even if the holidays are your favorite time of the year, recognize that it may not be so for those around you. Family, friends, and even those you pass on the street may be silently struggling during the holidays. Don’t shrug off their feelings, but instead understand how you can be supportive.
- Check in with family and friends. Don’t let them suffer in silence. If you notice someone has become withdrawn, try to support their needs and have respect for their feelings.
- Don’t minimize their feelings. Never tell someone “It could be worse.” This can prevent people from being comfortable opening up and send them even further into feelings of depression.
You don’t have to be happy all of the time, and depression can affect anyone at any stage of life. Teche Action Clinic provides professional compassionate care during this time. Our behavioral health services team includes a board certified psychiatrist, psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners, and licensed counselors.