Although holidays are often seen as a joyous occasion and a chance to come together with friends and family, they also can be difficult because of stress and mental health needs.
Stress during the holidays is often due to our own expectations, we try to be all things to all people regardless of the physical, mental, and financial strain it places on us.
Self-care is important especially during the holiday season. We are more vulnerable to illness and accidents when we are overly tired or under excessive stress.
Handling the Holidays When a Loved One has a Mental Illness
Holidays can be especially stressful for families when a member has a mental illness. Large groups can be over stimulating and confusing. Holidays also can be painful reminders of times past when things were better.
To reduce holiday stress, families can:
- Discuss plans in advance.
- Acknowledge feelings related to holidays.
- Keep realistic expectations.
- Respect and support each family member’s choices.
- Be flexible and allow for changes in plans and participation.
Helping Children Survive the Post-Holiday Blues
Post-holiday blues are the inevitable let down after the holidays and can be a difficult period for children.
Some ideas to help families cope:
- Don’t minimize your child’s feelings.
- Maintain consistent family rules and schedules.
- Plan a future fun event after the holidays.
When the Holiday Blues are Really Depression
Environmental factors can contribute to feelings of depression around the holidays. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which can result from fewer hours of sunlight during the winter months, can be a concern. Researchers have found that light therapy, a treatment involving a few hours of exposure to intense light, is effective in easing depressive symptoms in people with SAD.
Signs to Seek Help
Though some people may experience “holiday blues” that pass with the season, others will have profound feelings of sadness or depression that do not go away over time.
Symptoms of depression include:
- Persistent sad, anxious, or empty mood •Sleeping too much or too little, middle-of-the night or early morning waking
- Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased appetite and weight gain
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities, including intimacy
- Irritability or restlessness
- Difficulty thinking, concentrating, remembering or making decisions
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- Thoughts of death or suicide
- Feeling inappropriate guilt, hopelessness or worthlessness
If you are experiencing these symptoms over a period of several weeks, you may be depressed. Talking with a mental health professional or requesting a confidential mental health-screening test can help you.
Call our office today for an appointment.
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