Friday, December 18, 2009

Kicking the Holiday Blues

Each year millions of Americans experience the holiday blues. So, how do you help a friend or loved one enjoy the holidays rather than suffer through them?

The holiday blues can be triggered by a number of things, the anniversary of a loss of a loved one, old memories, old conflicts, the stress of overspending, even the awareness of aging. On top of that, we generally, during the holidays do a poor job eating, sleeping, and exercising, which can contribute to the blues. The blues are different than clinical depression. They are less severe and time limited.

Here are some simple actions to help someone with the blues:

1. Express your concern and ask how you can help.  Just being concerned and offering to help is very important as it is giving social support.

2. Try to involve the person in holiday activities, but don't be forceful. The more you push the more they may resist.

3. Check in phone calls and visits, even if they are very brief. The frequent contact can really help

4. Let the person know it’s ok not to feel festive all of the time. That feeling down doesn’t necessarily mean the holidays are ruined.

5. Finally, be a good listener. Sometimes just listening without offering advice can go a long way.

 For some individuals the holidays can bring on a more serious condition; clinical depression. If you or some one you know doesn’t seem able to shake the blues after a few weeks, then look for 5 or more of these symptoms:
Symptoms of Depression

*       Disturbed sleep (sleeping too much or too little)

*       Changes in appetite (weight loss or gain)

*       Irritability and intolerance

*       Loss of interest or pleasure

*       Feelings of worthlessness or guilt

*       Difficulties with concentration or decision making

*       Marked restlessness or slow movement

*       Hopeless, or feeling that life is not worth living

*       Recurring thoughts of death or suicide

 If  five or more of these symptoms are there for more than 2 weeks then it is important to contact a physician or a mental health professional. Depression is a very serious but manageable condition.

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