News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Health & Fitness

December 3, 2013

Feeling blue this holiday season? Try these tips

TERRE HAUTE — The holiday season is joyous and colorful. Along with all the festivities and celebrations, it also brings a mixed bag of emotions. Holiday blues affect many of us.

Festive music evokes different emotions. Depending on which stage of life we are in, it can bring happiness, sadness, anxiety or depressed feelings. One can reflect upon how quickly time has passed and what has been gained or lost. Beloved family members who have died can be dearly missed and cause one to feel melancholic. Health concerns and financial difficulties can overwhelm during the season. Separation from family members can be painful during this time of year, and loneliness particularly can make the heart heavy and add to feelings of depression and inadequacy.

Recognizing what factors make one sad can assist in dealing with holiday blues. Recognizing when to get clinical help and separating holiday blues from clinical depression is important and should be kept in mind when dealing with yourself or family and friends. Knowing the difference can help us intervene when needed for our own health and for loved ones.

Some tips to help with holiday blues:

•  Volunteering. Helping others is a great mood lifter. Volunteering at local schools, neighborhood organization and churches can create positive feelings of purpose and alleviate sadness.

• Avoiding idle time. If idle time is difficult for you, plan ahead. Fill your calendar with fun events. Reach out to positive friends. Also, plan ahead to visit places of interest and relaxation.

• Confide in someone. Talk about your feelings; it helps when trying to understand why you feel the way you do.

• Catch some sun and exercise. Cold weather and limited sunlight can add to seasonal symptoms of depression. Exercise and sunlight can be helpful with depressed moods and low energy.

If a loved one seems depressed, include them in your activities, invite them out, encourage them to talk about their feelings and to seek help if needed.

Holiday blues are temporary and mild but can unleash symptoms of clinical depression. It is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of depression, as prompt help can be life-saving. One should be concerned and seek appropriate clinical help if a person:

• loses pleasure or interest in most activities;

• starts to feel worthless;

• starts to feel excessive guilt;

• experiences significant changes in sleep or appetite; and

• suicidal feelings emerge.

In case feelings of depression set in, one should seek prompt help and also discuss them with a family member and friend. Remember that holiday blues are temporary, affect many of us and can be delt with.

— Ahsan Mahmood, M.D., medical director, Hamilton Center Inc.


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