The anticipation of the approach of the holiday season is usually associated with thoughts of joy, parties and celebrations, but for many it can be a time of depression depending on an individuals personal circumstances. Bruce Cannon, Director of Emergency Services for the Columbia Mental Health Center says for many the onset of depression during the holidays is associated directly with the absence of a loved one.
“It might be someone who passed away, or perhaps you might have experienced a divorce in the family. This may be the first Christmas with grandma or grandpa, your husband or your wife. or for children the first Christmas since mom or dad’s been gone.” This realization, says cannon, can bring up a lot of reminders and a yearning for Christmases past.
Cannon says a good way to handle the temporary depression associated with the holiday season is to make sure you get your proper rest, eat a proper diet, exercise, visit friends, help out with a charity.
Cannon says just as the absence of a person or persons may dredge up depression, as does having to associate with someone that you may dislike or have a long-standing feud with, which cannon says is often associated with large gatherings involving family members. “All family gatherings are not joyful and cheerful. Many people have certain members of their family that they can’t get alone with. They frequently have conflicts with them. There may be a long standing fued between one person and another. So a lot of family gatherings are spent by people walking on egg shells.”
Cannon says it is perfectly natural to have deep emotions at holiday time when thinking of a loved one who is no longer a part of your life. Cannon says it is therapeutic to express your feelings with friends and family members and share your fond memories of the person or persons who are no longer there for the holidays.”There may be a little bit of sadness associated with that because after all it’s normal to miss the person that is gone and to miss the things they often said or did, but recalling fond memories is a healthy sort of a thing.”
Cannon says if a person you know exhibits feelings of depression, don’t wait for the person to express what there sadness is about, be open and ask them about it. Your friend may need someone to simply listen.
Cannon says it is a good idea to do everything in moderation. Don’t try to attend all the parties. Don’t eat or drink to excess. Cannon says it is also a good idea to make sure you are taking the time and attention to minimize stress that can bring on feelings of depression. Do not try to rush to get everything done at a particular time. Cannon says taking time to eat properly is also very important.
“A lot of people have a tendency to under eat,” says Cannon. “They feel they just don’t have time because they have so much to do and they say they will get something later. They actually end up picking at this or that and they end up not eating as they should and they affects their ability to handle the stress associated with the holiday season.”