SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 Utah) – The holiday season can be a major trigger for depression, and for a variety of reasons. Experts note one of the major issues dealing with the problem is the stigma surrounding mental illness.
Brian Neilson is a Utah resident who has suffered from depression since the 80’s, but wasn’t actually diagnosed until the early 2000’s. Even then Neilson said the depression was hard to deal with.
“Depression is a real dark, dark, alone place,” said Neilson.
Before his diagnosis Neilson said it was hard to know what was wrong with him. All he knew was that it was hard to do basic functions.
“My family would be telling me you have to get off the couch, you have to do this, you have to do that, and I just couldn’t connect,” said Neilson.
Brian has since found that medication, and taking on hobbies has greatly improved his depression.
Experts note the biggest hurdle is often dealing with the stigma of mental illness and the medication that can be used to treat it.
Rebecca Ablad is a therapist in Murray, and has noticed more of her patients dealing with some form of depression. She notes while the holidays are perceived to be a happy time for many, it can often be the cause of people’s depression.
“A lot of family stuff can come up,” said Ablad. Grief especially this time of year. We tend to notice those that were once with us and are no longer.”
There are several different ways to combat depression that don’t include medication. Including exercise, self help, or therapy among others. Ablad notes there is no shame in seeking help.
“The truth is one in four people at some point in their life will benefit from a mental health service,” said Ablad.
Experts also point out that depression can be a slow process. David Rozek, a physiologist at the University of Utah, said the cold weather tends to keep people indoors more. In some cases it can be the first signs of depression.
“That’s kind of the initial stage of depression,” said Rozek. “We might see a slowdown in activity and we feel like I’m not getting out I’m staying in and feeling more isolated.”
Rozek notes depression is when those behaviors last more than a couple of days or become more common. People also start to focus on the negative aspects of everyday situations.
Along with being more active Rozek suggest reaching out to people. The holidays can be a perfect time. He said people don’t have to talk about their feelings, but just interacting can help.
Brian Neilson said the hardest part of dealing with his depression was finally seeking help. He notes once he started talking to someone things quickly turned around.
“Once you get in, and people aren’t judging you so much,” said Neilson. “The healing starts pretty fast after that.”
There are several resources available for people suffering from depression. For someone in crisis there is a 24hr crisis hotline 801-587-3000. During regular business hours there is also the UNI Warm Line 801-587-1055.