By Erick C. Lear, MSSA, LISW
|Rates of Depression Are Actually Higher After the Holidays|
|What If a Loved One Is Perhaps Suffering From Post-Holiday Depression?|
|Symptoms Associated With Depression|
Rates of Depression Are Actually Higher After the Holidays
One of the most common myths regarding depression is that symptoms of this disorder increase during the holidays. Many argue that this is because individuals suffering from depression are more likely to feel “down” when their holiday events do not compare with those of others around them. Oftentimes, the people who come to mind are those isolated individuals who have little money and few friends with whom to celebrate.
In actuality, however, the holidays often function as a buffer for most individuals. They often serve to provide a sense of hopefulness and belonging. This sense of connectedness often makes it easier for depressed individuals to function during the holidays with fewer symptoms. In fact, rates of depression and completed suicides are actually lower during the holiday season.
Often, it is not until after the holidays that those with depression find themselves having increased symptoms. Loneliness and despair become more common. It is during this time that the hopefulness associated with the holidays begins to wane. Individuals suffering from depression realize that their lives are the same as they were before the holidays, and that the hopefulness they felt was only temporary. This realization often leads to increases in depression and can also lead to thoughts of suicide. In fact, suicide rates often spike dramatically after the holidays.
Talk to them about concerns. Offering support and a sympathetic ear works wonders. Be prepared to hear difficult answers, though. An honest response to inquiries could lead to a frank discussion about a very serious condition. Know local resources beforehand, and don’t be afraid to suggest getting help from a trained professional. Today, physicians view depression as a medical condition that is treatable; usually this treatment involves a combination of individual counseling and medication. Whatever approach is taken, be aware that ignoring depression only communicates an uncaring attitude.
Professionals consider the following symptoms to be associated with depression:
- Appetite and/or weight changes (either loss or gain)
- Chronic aches and pains that are not explained by a physical condition
- Decreased energy, or a general sense of fatigue
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Feelings of hopelessness, guilt, and worthlessness
- Loss of sexual desire
- Irritability and/or excessive crying
- Loss of interest in activities
- Sadness, anxiety, or feelings of emptiness
- Sleep disturbances
If there is concern that a loved one may be suicidal, The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be of assistance. This hotline is a 24-hour, toll-free suicide prevention service available to anyone in suicidal crisis. If you or a loved one needs help, please dial 1-800-273-TALK (8255). The call will be routed to the nearest crisis center in your area. With crisis centers across the country, the Lifeline’s mission is to provide immediate help to anyone needing mental health services. All calls are free and confidential. The Lifeline can also provide information for loved ones concerned about family members.
Remember that when the holiday parties are over, those suffering from depression are only just beginning to realize that their lives have not miraculously improved or suddenly improved. This time of the year can be the most difficult for many and help can be invaluable