Depression in the Holidays

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As the holiday season approaches  it is important to keep in mind that depression, whether long term or seasonal, may make one’s winterbreak a miserably long time when it’s supposed to be one of joyous celebration, but with these strategies, getting through the holidays can be much easier. 

“I think this is the time of the year where people, not just kids, that have experienced loss,  have anxiety or depression,” counselor Chiante Deal said. “It’s supposed to be a happy season, or people say, but it’s not necessarily happy for them, so they have to find ways to get through the holidays without feeling so overwhelmed.” 

Depression, as is defined by Mayo Clinic, is  a mental health disorder characterized by persistently depressed mood or loss of interest in activities, causing significant impairment in daily life. It can affect anyone, from men and women, to  adults and children, people of any ethnicity, race, and socioeconomic status. Depression is often linked to stress, loss and grief, issues in one’s household or financial issues, as well as one’s surroundings. 

“[Make] a plan of what the day is going to look like, what you’re going to do, where you’re going to go, so that as the days come, you’re not overwhelmed,” Mrs. Deal said. “I think it really helps with people who have experienced loss and before they get to the day having an idea of where they’re going to be, how they’re going to remember so and so before the day comes, having a plan.”

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) note that depression is one of the most common mental health illnesses in the United States, with approximately 3 million people diagnosed in the US alone. While depression is most common among middle-aged people, studies have found that at least 20 percent of adolescents will experience depression one way or another before reaching adulthood. 

“[Make] sure you talk to the people around you, that are closest to you, that these days are not going to be easy, and [have] some strategies to get through the day,” Mrs. Deal said.

Depression becomes much more prominent around this time of the year, as the culture around holiday season is full of joy, celebration and happiness. With commercials showing people shopping for their loved ones and movies and shows depict happy couples and groups of friends having a good time.

“I think self-care is also really important,” Mrs. Deal said. “Finding something that you enjoy doing that is going to give you relief, things that make you feel more at peace when you’re stressed out or worried about something. I think this is a good strategy for anybody because the holidays can be so overwhelming because there are so many things to do, but especially people don’t want to feel ignored, and making sure they talk to their parents, [telling] them, ‘my day was rough’ and having a place to brief or a soft place to lay on.”

It is recommended that students who feel sad for long periods of time talk to their parents, and ask for help or to go to therapy. A therapist can help deal with issues, often delving into their roots and plucking them out. Students should also try to envelop themselves in a healthy environment, though this latter is not often in their control. 

“They’re not foolproof, but if you have a plan and if you have people to talk to, a therapist to talk to,” Mrs. Deal said. “If you’re prescribed meds make sure you’re taking them, make sure you’re eating, and make sure you’re getting enough rest and asking for help when you need it.” 

If feelings of depression, sadness, or hopelessness overwhelm  you or someone you know, do not hesitate to tell a parent, teacher or counselor or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 as fast as possible to avoid any tragedies.