Beat the Holiday Blues
For many people, the holiday season represents a time of joy celebrated by gatherings with friends and loved ones. But for others, it sparks sadness or stress, and it can bring on something even more serious.
“Holiday depression and anxiety are two of the most common mental health issues we come across during winter,” said family physician Padmajarani Gottipolu, M.D., of Carrollton Family Medicine & Pediatrics, a Texas Health Physicians Group practice. “Most of the time, people think of depression as the blues that will just pass on its own. But for a number of people, depression is a serious mental health condition that requires professional help.”
Because it can be a serious problem, it’s important to be familiar with the signs and symptoms that may signal depression: feelings of guilt or worthlessness, irritability, loss of appetite, weight gain/loss, and changes in sleep, energy and concentration. During the holiday season, these are often caused by unrealistic expectations, financial pressures or old memories of deceased friends and loved ones. For some, family reunions also can be stressful situations.
“Awareness is key to improving your state of mind and overall well-being,” Gottipolu said. “If you’re worried about yourself or a loved one, the best thing you can do is ask for help.”
While professional help is indicated for those experiencing several of these symptoms for two weeks or more, a call to your primary care physician should be the first step in getting help.
“There are so many people who suffer from depression,” Gottipolu said. “Identifying them early and treating them can prevent serious mental health conditions. So your doctor is a very good place to start.”
Some individuals are more vulnerable than others, but people of all ages, races and circumstances are susceptible to depression. So it’s important for everyone to remember the basics of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, Gottipolu said:
- Eat healthy
- Get plenty of rest
- Exercise regularly
- Avoid alcohol and smoking
- Keep reasonable expectations
- Integrate yourself into a community, whether that’s family or friends, church groups or social clubs
Physicians on the medical staff practice independently and are not employees or agents of the hospital or Texas Health Resources.