Dealing with depression during the holidays

First Posted: 12/24/2009

While this time of year can be full of joy and giving for some, others struggle with loss and depression. Local experts offer some advice for how to survive the holidays despite less than perfect conditions.
John Shelton, director of Surry County Emergency Services, said this time of year brings on depression and more cases of domestic violence, but cases of suicide are the about the same as in the springtime.
We have more domestics this time of year and we do have a lot of depression this time of year, but as far as attempts of suicide, its probably equal with this time of year and the spring of the year for some reason.
Shelton said there are various reason for depression during the holidays.
I think its several different things. This time of year with families who are separated and apart, its a hard time of year. I think the fact that the economy is the way it is and a lot of people are out of jobs has a lot to do with it. And maybe some recent death that they have experienced really has a lot to do with it.
Shelton said if someone has lost a loved one this year, especially it makes it harder to cope.
I think that a lot of depression is brought forward because they miss them. So I think this time of year brings that out. Even if it has been several years, since the family member or loved one has been gone, the holiday season seems to bring it back out again, Shelton.
He said if the depression gets to a point where it is life altering, then it is time to seek professional help.
If it is bad enough, seek counseling with your minister or a professional counselor. Get out and keep busy. Try to do fun things, try to mix with your friends, absolutely attend the church of your choice during the holidays. Try to stay active, exercise, walk, do anything, but there are several different ways to deal with stress and exercise is one of the ways to deal with that.
Mixing with friends and other people to try to overcome the loneliness and then if you just cant kick it, seek professional help. Do not wait until youve dug yourself in a deep hole. Its best for everyone, your family and your friends and everyone else if you seek help. Talk to your friends. Talk to them call them up and say Lets go out to dinner or something and exchange some good times in some way, Shelton said.
Sheila Jones, director for Development at Mountain Valley Hospice and Palliative Care said they hold regular support groups for those who are struggling with depression throughout the year, and also for those who are struggling during the holidays.
Sometimes when someone has suffered a loss and its still fresh, the holiday season is hard. Its hard because its bringing up memories of traditions that they are not able to do anymore. They not only have lost that person, they have lost the tradition as well. So again, that brings up another loss.
We give those in need ways to start new traditions or do things to help memorialize someone for Christmas, to keep their memory alive as well as helping them cope and going on after they have lost someone.
Its hard for folks, who its been several years for them since they lost someone, its still a difficult time, Jones said.
Shelton urged those who are struggling with depression or loss not to stay at home and dwell on their problems.
Get out and overcome.
For more information about counseling programs at Mountain Valley Hospice and Palliative Care, call 789-2922.
Contact Mondee Tilley at [email protected] or at 719-1930.

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