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Holidays are often a time for celebration and reconnecting with family, friends, and faith. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, TV specials, music, and ads remind us it’s the “most wonderful time of the year.” However, the holidays can be a difficult, stressful time for many people. Those responsible for planning, shopping cooking, and preparing for the holidays – men and women may feel the burden of increased demands, and difficulty meeting expectations.
People with depression who are already struggling with sadness and fatigue may feel worse during the holiday season. Also, the season’s abundance of rich food, sugar, and alcohol can lead to overeating and drinking as copying mechanisms that can worsen symptoms.
Managing depression during or after the holidays requires a plan. Managing demands on time and energy, identifying stressors, and setting realistic expectations can all help. It’s also important to remember that physical wellbeing can affect mood and mental health. To the extent possible, eat healthy food, moderate alcohol consumption, and get some exercise.
Signs of depression include feelings of sadness, worthlessness or guilt, crying, loss of interest in usual activities, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, irritability, social withdrawal, and changes in sleep, weight, or appetite. If these symptoms are severe or continue beyond the holidays, consider reaching out for professional help.
Together Health Network offers convenient and easy access for speaking with behavioral health specialists and licensed therapists via behavioral health virtual services at https://www.togetherhealthnetwork.org/virtualcaremi/.
Stacey Duncan-Jackson, RN, MPA
Director Population Health, Together Health Network