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Depression during the Holidays

If you are depressed, the holiday season has the potential to worsen your depression. When someone is clinically depressed it is more than just a bummer feeling that comes and goes. Clinical depression is a real sickness, or disease if you will. Neurotransmitters in the brain such as Serotonin and Dopamine are not transmitted properly, which causes feelings of hopelessness and isolation along with physical symptoms like exhaustion and general achy-ness. These are just a few of the symptoms of depression and there are many others.

During the holiday season, the feelings of isolation can become amplified when you see other people together doing fun things. Since it is understood that this is the time of year that family and friends gather together to celebrate, if you cannot for whatever reason be with loved ones, this could put you at risk for worsening depression. Sometimes a person can be so depressed that even if they are with other people, even family members that love them very much, they will still feel alone. You have heard the expression “alone in a crowd”, well this describes the feeling perfectly.

If these symptoms are familiar to you, please seek professional help immediately. You do not have to see a psychiatrist; you can make an appointment with your family practice doctor. Your doctor can prescribe the appropriate medication for you and monitor your progress with routine office visits. If he or she feels you need additional help they can refer you to a psychiatrist. If you are having thoughts of hurting yourself or others, go directly to the emergency room where they can give you immediate help. This is nothing to be ashamed of, nor should you feel that it is not an emergency because you don’t have a broken bone or some other type of problem that is typically thought of as an emergency. You should also have someone to talk to. A counselor might be a good place to start for some. There are other options as well, for instance, a pastor or church leader with training in counseling, a support group or another person who has depression that is being treated successfully.

Once you feel like you have your depression somewhat under control, it is also very effective to do things for others. You could work at a homeless shelter or battered women’s shelter; you might help an elderly neighbor with their yard or shopping. Pick a single parent household and be their “Secret Santa”. This is truly a blessing to yourself as well as the people you help. Try it and you will see how wonderful it feels. You should also get involved in activities that will keep you occupied and around people. If you don’t already, start going to church and get involved in a ministry that you have an interest in or feel called to do. Another suggestion for activities would be to take a class, whether it is an art class, a yoga class or even a business class. Whatever you have an interest in as long as you are doing something and are with happy people.

If you know of someone that you suspect is depressed, know that they may need help getting help. The very nature of depression can interfere with a person’s ability to get help. Talk to them about it and if necessary make an appointment for them and go with them to the doctor. You could be saving their life.

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