By Charles “Ebbie” Alfree III, Director of Advancement

For many the holiday season is an exciting time…family gatherings, catching up with old friends, enjoying traditions with loved ones, etc. However, for some the best time of the year is the most stressful and depressing time of the year.

According to the Healthline article, How to Deal with Stress and Depression During the Holidays, “The holiday season can trigger depression for a number of reasons. You may not be able to make it home for the holidays, or you may be in a rough financial situation. If you’re going through a difficult time, it can be tough to see others with extra joy in their lives.”

While people of all ages can suffer from the holiday blues, the phenomenon can have a great impact on the senior population. The American Medical Resource Institute states, the holidays can be a very hard time for some elders, their feelings of depression can be exacerbated due to chronic health issues, feelings of loneliness, and loss of loved ones.

Seniors and other individuals can help stop or decrease their holiday blues by performing a variety of tasks. Robert Preidt of ABC News provided the following suggestions in his piece, Helping Seniors Beat the Holiday Blues:

  • Attend and/or host parties and events. Spend time with your family members and friends at holiday gatherings…and if you feel up to it invite loved ones to your house for some holiday cheer!
  • Volunteer for a non-profit. The holidays are a good time to help others and volunteering not only gets you out of the house, but also around people. Besides feeling good because you have helped others, you will also have the opportunity to interact with new individuals and possibly make friends.
  • Control your alcohol intake. Too much alcohol can lower your spirits.
  • Talk about how you feel. Others around you may be feeling the same way. Expressing your thoughts and feelings may help you realize the cause of your depression and/or stress.

In addition, people who are feeling the holiday blues can also boost their endorphins by taking walks, exercising, participating in their favorite activities, listening to music, etc. It is important to take time…or more time than usual…to do things that bring you joy during the holiday season.

If you know of someone who is experiencing the holiday blues, spend time with the person, take him/her along with you to holiday festivities (or at least offer to take the person), and let him/her know it is OK to express his/her feelings.

If you notice the person is continuing to experience signs of depression (deep feelings of sadness, helplessness and hopelessness, loss of interest, isolation, issues with eating, sleeping and daily functioning, and/or mentioning suicide) you should seek professional assistance.

To learn more about the signs of depression and treatment, visit the following websites:

  • MHA (Mental Health America) – www.mentalhealthamerica.net
  • NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) – www.nami.org
  • National Institute of Mental Health – www.nimh.nih.gov

Printed in the Daily Local News on Wednesday, December 12, 2018. 

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