Overcoming The Holiday Blues
The holiday season is now upon us. Often the holiday blues come along with the Christmas cheer. We all have the blues at one time or another but the blues are especially common during the Christmas season. It is also common for the blues to progress into a severe depression during this time of year.
What is the difference between the blues and a severe depression? Depression is a persistent disturbance in mood in which feelings of sadness, loneliness, disappointment and hopelessness are usually common. Some of the symptoms are:
1. A significant increase or decrease in appetite.
2. A change in sleeping habits.
3. Feelings of restlessness or being slowed down.
4. Loss of energy or fatigue.
5. Feelings of worthlessness or guilt.
6. Loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities.
7. Poor concentration or inability to make decisions.
8. Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide.
The most obvious indicator is when a person starts making comments suggesting suicidal thoughts, such as “Life has lost its meaning for me.” “Nobody needs me anymore.” “My family would be better off without me.” No indicator of suicide should be taken lightly.
Depression can hit anyone. It is common among all levels of society. We all have difficulty coping with things at some time or another, so how can we avoid the blues? Some suggestions for avoiding the holiday blues are:
Concentrate on the positive aspects of ourselves, others and the situations we face.
Ask for help from family and friends – let our needs be known.
Look for activities for involvement –charitable work is an excellent choice.
Visit friends, family and those less fortunate.
Eat right and get enough rest.
Allow time for fun and relaxation.
Be patient with yourself and with others.
Manage your time and tasks.
Talk about thoughts and feelings with others.
Be open and honest with yourself and with others.
How can we help our loved ones who are suffering with depression? This is a common struggle for those involved. Some helpful suggestions are:
1. Be a good listener. Allow the depressed person to unload his/her thoughts and feelings without making judgments.
2. Look for opportunities to give genuine praise.
3. Be sincerely interested and understanding.
4. Do not constantly correct the depressed person. She/He is already struggling with enough guilt.
5. Make supportive comments such as, “We love you.” “You look a lot better today.” And “I don’t fully understand but I would like to help.”
6. Spend time with the depressed person and encourage him/her to get involved in activities.
Support may also mean helping the depressed person to find proper professional help. A good rule of thumb is that if depression persists over a period of more than one month and/or involves intense symptoms, professional intervention should be considered. Even though it is often frightening to seek professional help, depression should not go untreated. When it gets to the point where something has to change, I can help you make the changes!!!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!!
Mark Webb is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice at South Georgia Psychiatric and Counseling Center in Valdosta. Mark Webb is also the author of How To Be A Great Partner and founder of Partner Focused Relationships™. Sign up for Mark Webb’s “Relationship Strategies” Ezine ($100 Value). Just visit his website at http://www.powerfulrelationshipadvice.com or http://www.therelationshipspecialist.com