The song tells us, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” As we begin this holiday season it is very easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of shopping, parties, decorations, and festivities. For many of us this is a time to celebrate and relax with loved ones. But for so many people the holidays bring the reminders of lost loved ones. For some who are without resources it can bring the stinging reminder of lack. How do we recognize the difference between situational sadness and disappointment and clinical depression? What can you do to cope and make it through this often difficult season?
According to the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5 (DSM 5) common signs of depression are as follows:
- Prolonged sadness or unexplained crying spells
- Significant changes in appetite and sleep patterns
- Irritability, anger, worry, agitation, anxiety
- Pessimism, indifference
- Loss of energy, lethargy
- Feelings of guilt , worthlessness
- Inability to concentrate, indecisiveness
- No longer taking pleasure in previous interests
- Unexplained aches and pains
- Recurring thoughts of death or suicide
For anyone dealing with 3 or more of these symptoms I strongly recommend seeking help from a qualified mental health provider. If you are not necessarily struggling with depression but are feeling blue here are some important steps you can take to cope and make this season a little brighter.
- Recognize you are not alone. It is common to believe you are the only person dealing with your sadness. Isolating behaviors are typical responses. Try to recognize people in your life who care for you and support you. Try to realize their level of investment and interest in your well being.
- Help someone in need. When we are hurting it is a natural instinct to look inward and view experiences from our own often narrow perspective. It is often helpful to look outward. When you begin focus on others you may find that there are people who are struggling maybe a little more than you. Look for ways to volunteer with local charities, churches, or hospitals.
- Understand that how you feel may seem endless but it is not. Getting through sadness is a process. Give yourself the time and space to feel your feelings. Never lose hope in the process. Try to reflect on the hope of what you have and develop an optimistic view of your future.
If you are facing a difficult holiday season be encouraged and know that as the seasons change from the coldness and solitude of winter to the warmth and renewal of spring so can sadness be transformed into peace and joy.
Have a wonderful holiday!
Author Alicia Lurry