Salt Lake City, Utah (The Daily Dish) — For many people, the holidays bring with them additional stress and the risk of depression. Symptoms can include anything from sleep disturbances to unexplained physical problems. If you suffer from seasonal depression, learn to recognize your holiday triggers and avoid them if possible.

If you are feeling depressed, make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible. If you worry that you or someone you’re close to is in danger of self-harm, call 911 immediately. If you’re experiencing a crisis, you can also dial 988 on your phone to be connected to the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.

The holiday season is a festive time for many of us, but for many others, it brings more stress and even the risk of depression. The season can present an overwhelming array of demands – cooking for and hosting extended family, shopping, dealing with our children on extended breaks from school, and others.

Economic and pandemic-related pressures may compound feelings of stress, too. And also, since the holidays are, again, typically times of gathering and celebration, for those who have lost loved ones or are isolated for several reasons, the holidays can be extra trying.

It’s possible for someone to only experience a single episode of depression in their entire lives, but people who experience it typically will experience multiple episodes throughout time. During a depressive episode, symptoms may be almost constant for days at a time, and can include feelings of sadness and hopelessness; outbursts, irritability, or frustration, even over small matters; or a loss of interest in normal activities.

You might also experience sleep disturbances, a lack of energy, changes in your regular appetite and weight, or trouble concentrating or making decisions. Sometimes, those experiencing depression may also have physical problems, like back pain or headaches, with no easily explainable cause.

These symptoms of course don’t necessarily mean that you are experiencing depression, but they’re signs to watch out for. If you’re ever in doubt, talking with your primary care provider is never a wrong decision.

Quite simply, if you’re feeling depressed, especially combined with some of the other symptoms mentioned, make an appointment to speak with your doctor as soon as you can. Also, we have to recognize this is a difficult subject for some people to talk about. The best advice, of course, is to power yourself through that reluctance. But, at the very least, confide in a friend or loved one, or someone you can trust.

If you worry that you, or someone you know, may self-harm or attempt suicide, call 911 immediately. If you’re dealing with a loved one who may be in danger of self-harm, stay with them and call 911. Or, if you can do so safely, take them to the nearest hospital emergency room.

You can also dial 988 from any phone to be connected to the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, a nationwide network of crisis centers that operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Staffed by mental health professionals and supported by both local and state resources, the Lifeline offers confidential support to thousands of people every day. Military veterans can dial 1 after dialing 988 to connect directly to the Veterans Crisis Lifeline, too.

Learn to recognize your holiday triggers, so you’re prepared to combat them before they come on fully. With a little planning and recognition, you can still find peace and joy during the holidays.

It’s important to acknowledge your feelings for what they are. If you’ve recently experienced a loss, for example, know and accept that it’s completely okay to feel sadness and grief. You can’t—and shouldn’t—force yourself to try to feel happy, just because it’s the holiday season.

Be realistic, and acknowledge the reality that the holidays don’t have to be “perfect” or “just like last year,” or anything like that. Traditions and rituals change over time with families, and that’s normal – especially in the last several years with what we’ve all experienced through the pandemic.

Don’t hesitate to reach out. If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out connections, whether that’s making the effort to spend time with friends, just talking to a trusted family member, or even volunteering for a cause that’s important to you – all of these things can help.

Don’t abandon healthy habits. It may seem easy to let healthy habits go during the holidays, especially if you’re feeling down. But overindulgence can actually increase your stress levels.

If you have questions or need help, you can call or text 988 to reach the 988 lifelines 24/7 or you can call (866) 637-5268 or visit the Optum website.


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