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Holiday Depression Dampens the Spirit

During this time of good cheer, bright and colorful decorations, advertisements and commercials showing happy times seemingly enjoyed by all except for maybe you, makes being depressed all that more noticeable to others and to one’s self.  Signs of holiday depression or sadness may bring comments like “Don’t be a Grinch,” or being called “Scrooge,” which certainly do not help cheer you up at all.

Holidays Not Always A Happy Time

The months of November and December may not be in reality so cheerful. The store window dressings, magazine decorating articles, food ads, and holiday shows belie what may really be going on in people’s lives. The end of the year is often extremely stressful trying to plan for the holidays with limited finances, end of year deadlines and responsibilities. In addition, social work events, poor eating and drinking habits, or dealing with increased family stress also occur. Add holiday stress on top of dealing with the loss of a loved one during increasingly cold and dark winter days, and holiday depression finds its way into thousands of lives.

Sadness or Depression

It can be normal to be sad or depressed at any time of the year. The stress of the holidays may trigger sadness or depression for many. Seeing others happy and cheerful, full of generous spirit, may make one feel there is something wrong with them if they do not feel that way. During the months of November and December the stress and anxiety experienced may cause those who are normally content with their lives to experience loneliness, a lack of fulfillment, sadness or depression.

Signs of Holiday Depression

The most common signs of depression are crying, loss of interest in usual activities, fatigue, social withdrawal, feelings of sadness, thoughts of being worthless; additionally, irritability, changes in sleep, weight, appetite, blaming oneself or feeling guilty about a situation or event are commonly seen. These symptoms can come and go during the year. If they become severe or last for more than a couple weeks, it may be more than the holidays causing this. It is time to get professional help, turn your life around letting some joy back into your life.

Statistics of Holiday Depression

Part of feeling depressed can come from being alone, or from having limited support of family and friends. In the U.S. 43% of adults are single and 27% live alone. With senior citizens 17% are single, divorced or widowed over the age of 65 often with health and mobility issues. Women have twice the risk as men for depression. After development of heart disease, depression is the next most debilitating illness for women, 10th for men.

Holiday Depression Help

Holidays are supposed to be a time of joy and celebration, but some people find them anything but happy times. Call the office for a confidential appointment to determine if you have seasonal affective depression, a bout of the blues, or are clinically depressed. Help is available. Call today.

Seasonal Affective Disorder: Winter Blues

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a subtype of major depression that comes and goes based on seasons. SAD typically begins to affect people as early as September as fall develops and can continue on through early April. There is also an opposite pattern where seasonal affective disorder symptoms begin in the spring or summer. No matter when the seasonal pattern begins, the symptoms start out mild and become more and more disruptive as the season continues.

Statistics of Seasonal Affective Disorder

SAD affects an estimated 10 million Americans, with another 2-million who have mild seasonal affective disorder. SAD is about four times more common in women than men. While people of all ages can develop seasonal affective disorder, the average age when this illness first develops is 23 years of age.

SAD and Major Depression

Since seasonal affective disorder is a subtype of major depression that tends to “follow the seasons,” the symptoms of major depression that may also be a part of SAD include:

  • Being depressed most of the day, generally most every day
  • Feeling hopeless or worthless
  • Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
  • Problems with sleeping
  • Appetite or weight changes
  • Feeling sluggish or agitated, having low energy
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Frequent thoughts of death or suicide

Fall and Winter Seasonal Affective Disorder

Winter onset SAD is also called winter depression. Symptoms can include:

  • Fatigue, tiredness
  • Crying spells
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Body aches
  • Irritability and problems getting along with others
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Feeling like your body is weighing you down
  • Overeating and weight gain with cravings for carbohydrates
  • Being hypersensitive to rejection or criticism

Spring and Summer Seasonal Affective Disorder

Summer onset SAD is sometimes called summer depression. Symptoms reported for this subtype of major depression include:

  • Insomnia
  • Poor appetite and weight loss
  • Irritability, agitation, or anxiety
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Depression
  • Crying spells

Seasonal Affective Disorder Help 

Feeling “blue” can happen to anyone, however, if you find your “blue” day extending into a longer period of time with other symptoms mentioned above, it could very well be time to seek out help from a qualified mental health professional.

Dr. Hege, an Atlanta based seasonal affective disorder psychiatrist is just a phone call away from the help you need. Put an end to SAD and call the office today.

“Winter Blues” May Actually Be Sign of Depression

National Institute of Health (NIH) research have taken a clinical look at “winter blues” in comparison with a more severe type of depression called seasonal affective disorder or SAD. NIH research has looked at over 30 years of data to report the term “winter blues” is not a medical diagnosis. “Winter blues” may come and go over a period of a few days or weeks at a time. Seasonal affective disorder / SAD interferes with the ability to function on a daily basis for up to 5-6 months a year. Suffering through months of depression that not only affects you, but also family, friends and co-workers can be successfully treated by an experienced mental health practitioner.

Seasonal Affective Disorder a Form of Depression

Seasonal affective disorder is a form of depression characterized by recurring episodes of mild to severe periods of depression. In addition, other psychiatric disorders, such as bipolar illness, also experience seasonal changes with depressive episodes that may mimic seasonal affective disorder. Receiving mental health treatment from a well-qualified experienced psychiatrist is critical in assuring an accurate diagnosis or multiple diagnoses in the evaluation and treatment planning for your unique set of symptoms and behaviors. Medicine.net reports that up to 10% of adults suffer through SAD, with women diagnosed four-times as often as men. While the average age to develop SAD depression is 23, people of all ages can develop this form of recurring depression.

Symptoms of SAD Depression

While some do not exhibit all of these symptoms, the most common characteristics of recurrent depression or seasonal affective disorder reported by the National Alliance on Mental Illness include:

  • Recurrent episodes of depression, usually seen in the late fall and winter
  • Periods of depression are typically mild to moderate, but can reach severe states
  • Thoughts of suicide is a risk during more severe depression episodes
  • Pattern of insomnia or complaints of poor sleep patterns
  • Recurring pattern of oversleeping
  • Reports of carbohydrate craving and accompanying weight gain
  • Decreased sexual interest and libido
  • Feelings of hopelessness with daily life
  • Lack of interest in normal daily activities
  • Decreased socialization and interaction with peers

When SAD depression occurs in the summer, the symptoms most commonly exhibited include:

  • Insomnia
  • Poor appetite and weight loss
  • Difficulty concentrating on basic tasks
  • Crying spells
  • Irritability
  • Thoughts of suicide with severe depressive episodes

Atlanta Seasonal Affective Disorder Depression Psychiatrist

The “winter blues” are a form of depression that can be successfully treated following a comprehensive psychiatric evaluation to determine the type, form and degree of depression being experienced. Treatment and management is tied to correct diagnosis of one, two or multiple mental health issues being exhibited. Call the office and schedule an appointment if you’re experiencing these issues.