For many, holidays are a time for happiness and celebration. It is a time of joy and refection filled with parties and family gatherings. It is also the time of the year when more people become depressed.
Many people of all ages are affected by losses. These losses can take on greater significance during the holidays. People are reminded that loved ones are no longer there to share the holidays with them. Grown children are busy with their own social obligations, and may not realize that their parents or grandparents look forward to a visit or a phone call.
“Many college-age males and females can have symptoms of depression during the holidays despite the fun activities that accompany the festive season. Financial concerns, separation from parents, and a recent loss such as a death or break-up can be just a few contributing factors,” said Laura Hughes, UAM director of Counseling.
Many factors can contribute to the “holiday blues.” Financial burdens, stress, fatigue, commercialized holidays and family expectations are just a few. There are parties to cook for, presents to buy, houses to tidy and yards to decorate. Symptoms of tension and stress resulting from the holidays can be headaches, binge-eating, binge-drinking or even anger.
Signs of depression include weight loss or gain, difficulty sleeping, nervous behavior, low energy, irritated mood, disinterest in usual activities, feelings of worthlessness, difficulty thinking or concentrating and thoughts of suicide.
Follow these strategies to help cope with stress and depression during the holiday season:
If you or someone you know shows evidence of depression, it is important that you see your primary care physician – or encourage the person you know to do so. Services are available through the counseling and testing center located on the second floor of Harris Hall. If you missed the Suicide Prevention Program held Dec. 7 at the Gibson University Center, stop by the counseling center and speak with Hughes.
“Screening forms and information on how to help a friend or family member take the steps to deal with depression are available in the Counseling Office,” she said. “It is also important during this time that students, faculty and staff realize that not everyone who may be depressed will show symptoms. Some people are very good at hiding these symptoms.”
Depression can be treatable. First it must be recognized, then the doctor must determine that there is not a medical reason for the depression. Only then can treatment be initiated. During this coming holiday season, give someone the biggest gift: help them recognize depression, and help make sure that it is evaluated and addressed.
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© The Voice, 2004
Revised 041207 http://www.uamont.edu/Organizations/TheVoice/2_8/depression.htm