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Depression during the holiday season

The holiday season is fast approaching, and we see lots of red, green, gold and silver in the stores and our homes as we prepare for upcoming celebrations. But for some, the dominant color of the holidays is blue.  Some may wonder, “How can this be?  I’m supposed to feel happy and excited, looking forward to spending time with family!”  Others may think, “How can the holidays be enjoyable when I have so much added stress with decorating, preparing meals, not to mention buying gifts when we hardly get by paying our bills each month. Where’s the money going to come from?” Finally there are those who may think, “I dread the thought of having another family argument at Thanksgiving because Uncle Jerry gets drunk and tells everybody what he really thinks!”

To survive, and even thrive, during this time, consider the following recommendations according to WebMD:

  •      Be realistic: There is no such thing as a “perfect” holiday (someone would have discovered it by now).  Concentrate on the traditions that make holidays meaningful for you and your family.
  •      Know your spending limit: Money is the largest factor for stress during the holidays, and is compounded by current economic strain.  Keeping your spending to a realistic amount will greatly reduce stress for both you and your loved ones.
  •      Share the tasks:  Expect (or allow) others to help with food preparation and other tasks.  Engage your children, grandchildren, nieces/nephews, etc.  in the preparation in an enjoyable manner to  continue old traditions or create new ones.
  •      Learn to say “no”:  It’s important to let others (and yourself) know you have limits.  Consider the positives in setting limits for others.
  •      Keep a regular schedule:  Eating, sleeping, exercising and limiting your alcohol intake are vital ingredients for managing stress and reducing depressive symptoms.
  •      Get support if you need it: This may be the first holiday season since the death of a loved one, a breakup of a significant relationship or seeing family member(s) you avoid due to conflict.  Although it may be difficult or embarrassing, asking for help can be more beneficial than doing it alone.  “Pulling yourself up by the bootstraps” is a common myth for dealing with depression but it only further isolates individuals who need support.

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