Coping With The Holiday Blues

woman sitting on sofa in front of fireplace

What is Depression?

Depression isn’t a mental health disease that affects certain people. Depression doesn’t discriminate based on age, skin tone, occupation, gender or anything else. When depression hits you, it hits you hard. But what exactly is depression?

There are many forms of depression: major depression, dysthymia, post-partum depression, minor depression as well as seasonal depression. The technical definition of depression is “a severe despondency and dejection, typically felt over a period of time and accompanied by feelings of hopelessness and inadequacy.”

Some symptoms of depression are feelings of hopelessness, sadness, guilt, and anxiety. Your sleep patterns can also change. You’ll lose interest in your hobbies or doing the things that once made you happy such as socializing with family and friends.

The Winter Blues

There are many different triggers for depression. If your family has had a history of depression, then it could be in your genes. Depression can also come from emotional triggers such as a loss of a loved one, a divorce, or loss of a job.  During this time of year, there is an influx of depression cases. This form of depression is referred to as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), or seasonal depression, which affects about one to two percent of the population.

Setting unrealistic expectations for yourself, too many commitments and financial pressures can play a major factor in seasonal depression. The holiday season is a socially active time for many of us. If you’re feeling depressed during this time, then holiday parties and events won’t be your favorite place to be.

The symptoms of SAD are very similar to regular cases of depression, but they only occur around the winter time. Below is a list of symptoms that have been identified by the Cleveland Clinic:

  • sadness;
  • anxiety;
  • irritability;
  • loss of interest in usual activities;
  • withdrawal from social activities;
  • inability to concentrate;
  • extreme fatigue and lack of energy;
  • a “leaden” sensation in the limbs;
  • increased need for sleep; and
  • craving for carbohydrates, and accompanying weight gain.

How to Combat Seasonal Affect Disorder

During the summer, the days are longer, which means that there is more sunlight for your body to absorb. During the winter, however, there’s less sunlight, and SAD more often than not is triggered by less exposure to daylight. There are ways to get over this hump, though.

To help with SAD, participate in outdoor activities during the daylight. Go for a jog during your lunch break or when you get home from work or school. These tips can help with your case of seasonal depression.

We also suggest phototherapy or light therapy. Phototherapy consists of sitting close to an artificial light source that is stronger than normal indoor lighting for 30 minutes every morning. The light is absorbed through the eyes. Usually, people are feeling better after one session, however, treatment can last for a few days or several weeks.

It’s critical you seek help if you’re experiencing any type of depression. It’s a condition that needs to be identified and treated in the early stages before it leads to potentially more serious issues such as substance abuse, reckless behaviors, and even suicide. If you feel you are suffering from a form of depression, please don’t hesitate to contact Holiner Psychiatric Group and schedule an appointment.

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