Tuesday, December 13, 2011

'Tis the Season

'Tis the season.....for depression.

Now, I don't want to be a complete downer, but amidst all the holiday hoopla, festivities, decorations, music, gift buying and giving, food, food, and more food, there are many among us struggling mightily with depression.....and feeling even more depressed, because they SHOULD be happy and "in the spirit".

When I was in private practice, my client load increased exponentially during and right after the holidays. These are very difficult times for those of us vulnerable to depression. Aside from the fact that it's the dead of winter, dark and cold, the stress of the holidays, coupled with the expectations of a "happy time" (promoted so heavily by media), wear heavily on many folks.

How do I know this? Because I've struggled with depression most of my life. Luckily, my last bout is long past, and with the help of a great support system, I have been able to keep the gray ghost at bay for years. But the dark days of winter bring it dangerously close at times; and it is at those times when my heart goes out to those in the midst of the battle.

Depression sucks the very life out of you.....and, by the way, everyone around you. It settles over you like a gray mist, leeching all color out of life. It steals your ambition, hope, energy. It makes you think crazy thoughts and do crazy things.

What's worse is, those who have experienced a bout of clinical depression are likely to have at least one recurrance, worse than the first. Serious depression changes your brain chemistry, and each episode makes it harder to repair the damage.

So, my message this holiday season is, GET HELP if you're feeling down or depressed. There is no shame in seeking a cure for this incidious disease. Set your ego aside, take antidepressants, go to therapy, do what your psychiatrist tells you do to. And if you are a friend or relative of someone you suspect is depressed, INTERVENE. Insist that they get help......which is what my dear friend did many years ago that probably saved my life (or someone else's!).

It is definitely the season......to pay attention to those around you.....and to yourself. Be kind, be attentive. You never know whose life you may be saving.

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