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Surviving the Holidays!

December 15, 2010

Holiday ImageBRANDON, FL - For many, the holiday season is a joyous time to spend with family and friends, and rejoicing in the possibilities of a new year.  For many others, it is a time filled with fear, loneliness and anxiety.  Many of these individuals are either suffering from depression or are just “surviving the holidays,” especially during this time of high unemployment and a sluggish economy. 

Although depression can affect everyone, the biggest groups that suffer from holiday depression include women and seniors.  According to a statistic from the National Institute for Mental Health, one in four women will experience severe depression at some point in life.  Depression affects twice as many women as men, regardless of racial and ethnic background or income.

  “Seniors can have an especially difficult time with the holidays,” explains Maulik Trivedi, MD, with MindBody Integrated and Brandon Regional Hospital.  “Loss of a loved one, loneliness or a traumatic event can cause a flood of memories and depression begins to set in.  A maze of emotions can appear in a very short time leaving one depressed and anxious.”

Women, typically the manager and coordinator of family events and traditions, and many times shopping and finances, are especially impacted by the holidays.  “Typical sources of holiday depression for women include; finances, stress, fatigue, family visits and unrealistic expectations,” explains Dr. Trivedi. 

The holidays can be a time of happiness and getting back to the important or simple things in life.  “For some, it is as simple as having better time management and regular exercise that will wash away fatigue and lift their spirits,” Dr. Trivedi points out.  “For others, making creative gifts that will prove invaluable over time is the answer to economic worries.  For others yet, a shift in perspective about what the holidays truly mean is required.”

One of the best ways to manage holiday blues is to focus oneself on the true spirit of the holidays.   When our focus is on our own unfulfilled physical or emotional needs, the suffering seems to increase.  If instead, we engage our spirit in nurturing humanity and bringing peace to our world through small acts of kindness for others, we are rewarded with lasting peace within ourselves.   Being with loved ones, cherishing the time we have with each other and using the holidays to nurture stronger, kinder relationships with each other is the important message of the holidays.

“It is very important to stress that if you feel this is more than the “holiday blues,” or that this feeling is strong and persistent, that you seek immediate medical attention,” stresses Dr. Trivedi.  “Depression is a serious condition that should be evaluated and monitored by a physician.  One needs to gauge the intensity of their emotionality.  For mild depression and seasonal blues, seeking out a therapist for support and guidance will usually suffice.  If depression and anxiety are persistent or are getting worse, an evaluation with a primary care doctor or a mental health professional is recommended.”

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