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Dr. Shane


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Depression & Anxiety During the Holidays

Tis the season for good tidings, time with family and friends and making merry. However, for many people the holiday season is a very stressful and dreadful time of year. Depression, the feeling of overwhelming sadness and lack of desire to do any usual activities, is way more common during the months of December and January.

There are several reasons why depression is more common during this time of year:

- During winter time there is less light and less exposure of humans to light - due to cold weather, we stay inside more. This seasonal effect of less light changes many of us.

- Holidays are busy and stressful with many feeling they cannot keep up with the go, go, go nature of the season, too many things to do and places to be. Also, for many there is financial strain during this season. These real stresses and frustrations weigh heavily on many people.

- The holidays are a time for grieving for many who have lost loved ones which adds to the down in the dumps feeling during this season.

- For many, the holidays are a time of feeling socially isolated for those with poor family connections and lack of opportunity to connect with other people. Many people feel left out of these holiday social gatherings or generally do not do well in social gatherings.

How do you fight these feelings of depression and stress during the holidays? Try to get outside more during the day in the light. Take a walk and refresh your brain, heart, lungs and legs. Exercise is a great way to reduce stress. Take a friend and chat as this helps loneliness and stress too. Set some basic holiday ground rules to live by so you can enjoy the time you have—limit party planning, decorating and gift buying some. Be realistic about what you can and can’t do. Maybe consider volunteering somewhere to spread some cheer. Consider starting a new holiday tradition and share it with family and friends. Finally, make time for yourself—a Christmas present from yourself.

Depression can be a very serious medical problem. If you feel down and overwhelmed, please seek out medical help. Share your thoughts with family or friends. Don’t suffer in silence. We are here to help.

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