During Christmas and the national holidays, people can become more depressed than when they are in a routine back at work or back at school. Christmas as we all know, takes a lot of hard work to plan, prepare and execute. For most of us, the lucky ones, the holidays are the perfect time to reflect and enjoy being in the company of friends and family. But this is a completely different story for people who suffer with mental health.
Depression is a broad topic as there are many different types of depression with different symptoms. Most of us have either suffered severe depression or have experienced temporary depression due to high stress, loss of a family member or even serving in the military. The best way to deal with depression is to seek guidance from your doctor who will help you to overcome depression. However here is some advice for yourself or a loved one to manage depression over the holidays before you see your doctor.
Get some sleep
If you can, get some sleep but if you’re depression is stopping you from sleeping properly then keep reading as we have some other techniques you can use. Sleep is one of the most important factors to living a healthy lifestyle. Aim for 8 hours a day and you will start to see a massive difference in the way you look at life and carry out your day-to-day tasks. However, oversleeping can have a negative impact on your mood, so regularly over sleeping should be avoided.
Listen to music
Not an obvious one, but it has been proven to calm people struggling with high anxiety levels. In particular, listening to piano music or any other type of instrumental music can really help.
Being social is very difficult when suffering with mental health, depression and anxiety. However, pushing yourself to stay in touch with the closest people to you can improve your wellbeing so much.
Write a journal
If talking to someone close to you is a daily struggle, try writing a journal about what you get up to everyday, the things you struggle at, what you want to achieve in the future etc. Letting out your emotions and thoughts onto a piece of paper is a good way to help calm and soothe your mind.
However, there is a specific disorder that is relevant to the Christmas/holiday seasons and winter. It’s called Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD for short. It is a type of depression that occurs in seasonal months mainly during winter. This is believed to be caused by the lack of daylight or the changes in the amount you receive. In the United States, SAD affects 4 to 6 percent of people whilst another 10 to 20 percent of people suffer a mild version of SAD according to the American Family Physician. In the UK, SAD affects 29 percent of adults, 8 percent have acute symptoms and 21 percent with a mild condition according to The Weather Channel and YouGov.
Symptoms of SAD vary, but these are the common ones to look out for:
– A heavy sensation in your limbs.
– Tiredness with a tendency to oversleep.
– Lack of focus/concentration.
– A change in diet – cravings for sweet and starchy foods.
– Avoiding social interactions.
– A reduced amount in energy levels.
If you show any of these symptoms, it is worth getting examined by either your local doctor or a psychologist. As mentioned before, SAD occurs mainly during winter and sometimes in summer, so the symptoms may not always be obvious to you at first. The American Psychological Association have a few tips on how to manage the disorder.
SAD is treatable using a method called light therapy. This method exposes you to artificial lighting for 30 minutes a day. This process is not done all year long, but rather the season you experience the symptoms in which is most likely during winter or even summer. The therapy can be done in the comfort of your own home or at your workplace. All you need is a light box that is a portable device, and exposure to its bright light for 30 minutes a day can really benefit your disorder.
It is advised to stay clear of tanning beds, as they cause unnecessary harm to your skin and eyes from being exposed to a high level of ultraviolet rays.
If the treatment proves successful, there can also be some side effects that you should be wary about with this specific type of treatment. Light therapy causes headaches, eye strain, fatigue, irritability and the inability to sleep according to The American Family Physician. Don’t be too concerned however, as the majority of these side effects are only caused when the therapy is done late in the day. So, half an hour every day before noon should stop the chances of there being any side effects.
To conclude, if you do suffer from any type of depression or know someone who does, discuss the options with a doctor because it is possible to overcome them by being treated for depression. For any more help, read our article on the insider’s guide to your zen life.