Seminar to help people cope with holiday depression

With the holiday season prepared to reach a crescendo later this month, the stress and the schedule can have an adverse effect on some people. Hoping to offer tips and provide information to help bring awareness to the possibility of depression during the holiday season, Dr. Andy Drymalski, a licensed psychologist with Carson-Tahoe Behavioral Health Services, is hosting a seminar titled "Take a Holiday from Depression" from 10 a.m. to 11 am. Monday in the Zephyr Room of the Carson City Senior Citizens Center.

Is there an increased likelihood of depression during the holiday season?

It's a difficult time of year for some people. There is added pressure to behave in a certain way, more pressure to be extroverted and go out and socialize that may make people uncomfortable. There is also pressure to be happy and festive when people may not feel that way.

In older people especially, it can also be difficult because the holidays bring up memories of loved ones who have died. They are used to spending time around the holidays with loved ones who may no longer be here. The elderly and people who live alone are especially vulnerable during the holidays.

What are some signs or symptoms of depression?

Signs include sadness, feeling down, not getting much pleasure or joy out of life, changes in appetite or sleep patterns, lack of energy, increased drinking or drug use, social withdrawal, feelings of hopelessness or pessimism.

But the most concerning signs are a lack of meaning or purpose in life, which can lead to thoughts of suicide.

What are some mistakes people make around the holidays that can increase the chances of depression?

People get Clark Griswold Syndrome (from "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation") and they keep building up expectations for the holidays. We get so caught up in what we think the holiday should be and we don't listen to what we really want. We build it up to a level where we can't possibly achieve it, sometimes we are too idealistic or romantic about our expectations for the holidays.

What are some ways to prevent or help cope with depression during the holidays?

Take the time to contemplate and be honest about what you want out of the holiday and live in accordance with that. If you are not excited by it, then don't put pressure on yourself to be that way. If the crowds make you agitated, then don't go near them.

Exercising and getting outside is also good tool against depression and some people benefit from extending themselves and helping, while others don't. If none of those things work, it might be good to see a therapist or go to a support group, definitely if it becomes severe.

What should you do if you think someone you know is suffering from depression?

Try to evaluate the severity and help them to talk about it. Don't ignore it, not that you want to badger them but you want to let them know you are there. You are not trying to fix them, but by listening it usually gets better.

The more symptoms they accumulate, the more it should be a concern and especially when they start feeling hopeless and helpless and giving up, then it's really a concern. When their ability to function day-to-day is deteriorating, then it's really a concern.

Having the blues is pretty common, but getting stuck in it is when you need to intervene.


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