Mental Health and The Holidays
It’s the Holiday Season! Some people love it and some people hate it. Either way, it’s a busy time of year and can be very stressful. As a result, I see a noticeable increase in visits for depression and anxiety this time of year. Unfortunately, there is a corresponding increase in death by suicide this time of year as well. It seems like the wrong time of year to discuss depression, when the holidays should be a time of celebration. However, knowing that ¾ of people will experience a major depression at some point in their life and that there are 45,000 deaths by suicide in our country each year, we have to talk about this devastating illness.
Depression is a complex but treatable illness. It’s complex because there is no singular cause for depression, although stress in general is a very common trigger. Specifically, there are several gene markers which have been identified to be involved with depression. Having a first degree relative with depression nearly doubles a person’s own risk of depression. Then there are strong environmental and lifestyle risk factors for depression as well, such as substance abuse, seasonal, and hormonal changes.
With a diverse group of causes for depression, there is also a diverse group of treatments. These include important lifestyle measures such as good nutrition, exercise and sleep. Therapy and medications are also important treatments for depression. As with anything, before any treatment can be started, identifying those suffering from depression is the first step. So this holiday season, ask friends and family how they’re doing, how they’re REALLY doing. And listen. Don’t be afraid of what they might say; worry about what is left unsaid if you never ask.
For ideas and resources, visit these great links:
From all of us at MIP, we wish you and your family a warm and safe holiday season.