Mental Health Is Not Something to Take for Granted: How to Manage Depression and Stress During the Holidays
How to Manage Depression and Stress During the Holidays
Stress and depression can occur at any time of year, and for any reason. We have seen some of our favorite entertainers leave us over the past few years due to depression. Mental health is not something to take for granted, or to sweep under the rug. Depression can happen to anyone – even those individuals whom you think “have it all.”
There is no time more important to focus on emotional well-being than around the holidays. Autumn brings cooler weather, pumpkins, turkeys, and holiday decorations. There is no doubt that by the time October says goodbye that the holiday season is in full swing.
Unfortunately, not everyone shares these joyous feelings as the year comes to a close. Many factors can contribute to increased depression and stress, including:
- Financial restrictions – present shopping, travel expenses, added cost of holiday meals
- Having to socialize with co-workers, friends, or family members
- Houseguests who come to visit or stay too long
- Overloaded calendars
- Overeating or too much alcohol consumption
- Loneliness due to being single, a recent divorce, or loss of a loved one
- Expectations of others
- Health concerns and navigating special needs during the holidays
- Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
What is SAD and How Do I Know If I Have It?
Seasonal Affective Disorder occurs during the winter months when days grow shorter. With fewer hours of sunlight, some people experience a type of depression that can start in the fall and continue until the spring or early summer.
Also termed the “winter blues,” SAD can interfere with work, school, and home life. Symptoms of seasonal affective disorder include:
- Fatigue or low energy
- Weight gain
- Changes in appetite
- Excessive sleepiness or oversleeping
- Feeling agitated, depressed, or stressed
- Impaired concentration
- Loss of interest in activities and socialization
- Suicidal thoughts or thinking about death
SAD occurs more frequently in females than males, and in younger rather than older adults, although it can happen to anyone. Treatment for SAD includes phototherapy (light therapy), psychotherapy, and medications. Trying to get outside during the day for more sunlight can help mild cases of seasonal affective disorder. Do not hesitate to seek medical help if the symptoms of SAD do not decrease or if they become more severe.
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