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Holiday QA1

December 1, 2016

The holidays are time for gatherings, celebrations, family, and friends. However, throughout the holiday it's important to keep your health and the health of your loved ones in mind. Our monthly Q&A series discusses different holiday season topics. Today, Jennifer Price, MS, LMHC discusses holiday depression.  

Jennifer Price
Jennifer Price, MS, LMHC
Rochester Regional Health

Q: “What signs should I look for if I think someone is depressed during the holidays?”

A: Feelings of depression during the holidays are a common concern that is not much discussed.  Many people associate the spectacle of the holidays with loneliness, guilt, anxiety, feelings of worthlessness, and personal life failures, to name a few.   If you are concerned that someone in your life is experiencing depression during this time of year, there are numerous behaviors which could indicate some of the above mentioned symptoms. 

Loss of interest: Has your loved one recently started to pull away from events and activities which at one time were valued by them?

Negative sense of self: Have you noticed your loved one frequently making comments indicating a sense of disappointment, despair, or apprehension about the future and/or the upcoming season?

Isolation:  Has your loved one been avoiding calls, texts, and face to face get togethers? Many times, people experiencing depression find it is too difficult to “put on a mask” around others to try and seem joyful, especially during this time of year.

Decreasing a healthy lifestyle: Is the person no longer following healthy living habits that at one time seemed important to them?

Eating/Sleeping too little or too much:  Any drastic and noticeable change in both eating and sleeping habits can indicate that someone is feeling emotionally unwell.  Many people turn to overeating and excessive sleeping as a coping strategy, or cannot eat or sleep at all due to anxiety and other negative emotions creating stomach problems or lack of appetite. 

These are only a few indicators that someone could be struggling this holiday season.   If you feel that someone in your life is struggling past the point of you being able to support them, it is very important to encourage them to seek professional help.  There are many online and community resources which can be utilized. Most importantly, remember that depression is a real illness, no different than a physical illness, and it is not chosen or desired by the person suffering.   If you have concerns about the safety of someone in life, please call 911 or bring them to the nearest emergency room for a psychiatric evaluation.

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