Depression During the Holiday Season

Depression During the Holiday Season

Thursday, December 20, 2018

By: Ana Taylor, FNP-C

During this holiday season, there is much to be thankful for as the joyous season continues on with Christmas songs, decorations, beautifully decorated Christmas trees and the gathering of family and friends. However, for many individuals, the holiday season can be one of the most difficult times of the year. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (2018), in 2015, 16.1 million individuals greater than 18 years of age have had at least one major depressive episode in the past year. This represents 6.7% of all American adults. Depression is the leading cause for disability for individuals 15-44 years of age. Depression can last for weeks and often times can impact one’s work, school and social functions. (Anxiety and Depression Association of American, 2018).

It is important to remember that depression is a medical condition and requires treatment just as someone who may have high blood pressure, diabetes, or anemia. Depression can manifest with symptoms that include overwhelming sadness or loss of interest of pleasure in doing usual activities. Depressive symptoms also include a change in sleep and eating habits, fatigue, feelings of worthlessness, moving slower than usual, difficulty concentrating on tasks or making decisions. Feelings of guilt, recurrent thoughts of death, suicide ideation, of suicide with or without a plan are also symptoms that can be present during depressive episodes. These symptoms can last for weeks and often times can impact one’s work, school and social functions. During the holiday season, these symptoms can manifest just one symptom or be a cluster of symptoms. Depression does not affect everyone the same way, nor do symptoms present the same for everyone.

The treatment of depression often begins with an individual meeting with a medical provider to discuss concerns and symptoms, as well as developing an individualized treatment plan. It is during this exam that the medical provider will discuss possible reasons for depression and rule out causes of depression by an exam and lab work. There are things that an individual can do for themselves during depressive episodes, which include: exercising daily, breaking large tasks into more manageable tasks, talking to close friends or family members, seeking spiritual guidance or a licensed therapist, postpone major life decisions, and avoiding self-medicating with alcohol or drugs. It is also important that we support our loved ones during these times by encouraging one another, never ignoring comments about suicide, inviting loved ones out for activities and social gatherings, reminding them to take prescribed medications, providing transportation if needed to necessary appointment, and reassuring them that with proper treatment that depression is manageable, just as many other illnesses. Your local medical providers are available to help you or a loved one with depression through appropriate diagnosis, treatment and resources that will help improve your quality of life.

Resources
Depression. (Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 2018). Retrieved from https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/depression