Depression: A Difficult Time of the Year
can strike anybody at any time, but the holiday season is
one of the most common triggers for depression. This year,
there may be even more cases of depression due to the effects
of the attacks that occurred in September. This kind of trauma
can cause post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The economic
outlook is more uncertain now than it was last year, and that
can trigger anxiety.
of the "Holiday Blues"
reasons that people become depressed during the holidays include:
(for those unable to be with loved ones)
can also be a post-holiday letdown, after you've eaten too
much, stayed out too late, had too much to drink, etc. Disappointment
about the holidays can also contribute. There's so much build-up
to the holiday season that it's not uncommon for people to
feel disillusioned afterwards.
that a time that people want to feel joyful about can cause
so much emotional turmoil. If you tend to feel down during
the holidays, keep these things in mind:
realistic expectations. A brief holiday season can't make
your life perfect, can't make difficult people act different,
etc. The more you expect, the more you set yourself up for
over-commit yourself. Be sure to pace yourself, and attend
only the parties and other gatherings that interest you.
get yourself into financial trouble. If finances are tight,
explain that to your friends and family. It's a safe bet
that nobody wants you to get into serious debt by buying
presents for them.
proactive about the holidays. If there are aspects of your
annual celebration that you've always wanted to change,
go ahead and change. Celebrate in ways that are meaningful
holiday blues persist into the winter, it might be a good
idea to talk with your primacy care doctor about how you're
feeling. You may actually have a case of depression, which
will need medical treatment.
PTSD can develop after exposure to a terrifying event that
caused or threatened serious physical harm. People who were
directly involved in the events of September 11th are most
likely to experience PTSD as a result. But even watching it
on television over and over again may have been enough to
cause PTSD in some people. There is some evidence that individuals
who have witnessed other traumatic events earlier in their
lives may be more susceptible to developing PTSD later on.
And researchers now believe that people who respond to trauma
by acting emotionally "numb" may be more prone to developing
of PTSD include:
or other sleep disturbances
symptoms such as headaches, stomach problems, dizziness,
common for people with PTSD to visit their doctors because
of physical symptoms. The doctors may often treat the symptoms
but not realize that PTSD is the true cause of the problem.
are many treatment options for PTSD. Talk therapy, either
individually or in groups, can be helpful to many people.
Hypnotherapy can be beneficial, as can exposure therapy, in
which the person gradually relives the frightening experience-under
well controlled conditions-in order to work through the trauma.
depression medications work well for PTSD too, particularly
those in the class called SSRIs, or selective serotonin re-uptake
National Institute of Mental Health; National Mental Health Association, 2001