Coping with depression during the holidays

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Many people look forward to the holidays, even with the stress of shopping, gift giving, navigating family dynamics, meal planning and juggling a schedule packed with holiday activities and commitments. But this isn’t always the case. For some people, the holidays can be an emotionally exhausting and difficult time. 

“The holidays can be an especially difficult time for those battling depression,” explains William Holmes, Manager of Mental Health Services at McLaren Port Huron. “It’s really important to be aware of the signs and symptoms and to talk with your healthcare provider early to discuss treatment and coping mechanisms.”

It is normal to feel blue or occasionally sad as long as these feelings start to fade after a few days. Depression or major depressive disorder is a common and serious medical condition that includes long-lasting symptoms such as overwhelming sadness, low energy, loss of appetite, and a lack of interest in activities you once enjoyed.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, depression symptoms can vary from mild to severe and are experienced most of the day, nearly every day, for at least two weeks and can include:
Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
Irritability
Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
Decreased energy or fatigue
Moving or talking more slowly
Feeling restless or having trouble sitting still
Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
Appetite and/or weight changes
Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and/or that do not ease even with treatment

Here are other tips that may help you or a loved one as we head into the holiday season:
Monitor your symptoms and manage them early.
Don’t isolate yourself - spend time with other people and create a solid support system.
Keep your plans simple – don’t overextend yourself.
Be active and exercise.
Maintain a healthy diet and avoid alcohol.
Seek professional help - if your symptoms are escalating, seek help from your healthcare provider.

If you have questions about depression, speak with your health care provider. If you are in need of Emergency Psychiatric Services call (810) 989-3159 or patients may go directly to the McLaren Port Huron's Emergency Center.