When we think of the holiday season, typically we think of it as a time of joy. Unfortunately for many people it can be a time of sadness. There can be many reasons for this. This year may be particularly bad due to the economy and so many family members lost fighting for our country.
The Loss Of Loved Ones
Sometimes holidays are hard emotionally because of loved ones lost. The holidays are never the same after losing a loved one, but the first Christmas, New year’s eve, and other holidays can be a very hard time for those left behind. Sometimes it is just plain melancholy, and that person would rather spend that holiday alone, or not celebrate it at all. We all mourn in different ways, so give them space if that’s what’s needed. While giving that space though, keep a careful watch on them. If it appears they are experiencing depression, make sure they get the help they need.
Loss Of Income
Many people are feeling a financial squeeze this year. Some have lost their jobs, or have had a cut back in their hours. While this season is supposed to be about family and love over the past couple of decades more and more emphasis has been put on material things. Many people can put this into perspective and be grateful for their family and friends. Some of us are happy to get back to basics. Some people however, believe they are worthless without material possessions. This is very unfortunate, and it can set off depression in some.
September 2009 showed a 23% jump in foreclosures as compared to September 2008. It is reported that one in three hundred and seventy two homeowners received a foreclosure notice. If losing your home is on one’s mind, it would cause some emotional responses for sure.
I’m not trying to dampen anyone’s spirit this Holiday season, but I would like to point out the facts so we are all more aware of people’s feelings around us. Sometimes Thanksgiving is particularly hard if someone is down. They may go deeper into sadness, and closer to depression as they wonder what they have to be grateful for. That is where good friends and family come in. They need to remind that person of the things they do have to be grateful for. Reminding people of their family, children, or whatever applies to them may help.
Another way to help is to try to curb the use of alcohol. Some people turn to alcohol that is so readily available at holiday functions thinking it will make them feel better. When in good spirits, and in moderation having a drink or two can be fine. If a person is sad, or worse, depressed, alcohol will intensify these feelings.
Spend some quality time with them. Instead of rushing around store to store every single day, set aside an hour or two to spend with a friend that may be less fortunate than yourself. As I said, some people really do need to be alone sometimes, but when alone all the time, this can quickly turn sadness into depression. Having every hour every day to themselves may lead to too much negative thinking. Distract them with a visit and perhaps a walk around the neighborhood, the light exercise and fresh air can do a world of good. In the meantime, it will give you a chance to evaluate the situation.
Signs of Depression
Loss of interest in daily activities
Lack of hygiene
Feeling tired all the time
weight loss or gain
Signs of depression can vary greatly between individuals. That’s why it’s important to keep your eye on a friend or family member that is experiencing a loss. You know them personally and can usually tell if it’s more than just sadness.
Unfortunately, many people that take their own lives show major signs of depression beforehand, but the signs go unnoticed. Remember to never take it lightly if someone says they want to die. Many people say things like, “they’re just saying that to get attention” or “he doesn’t really mean it”. Please, always take it seriously and get them the help they need. I have lost a few people to suicide. In listening to the stories, all had shown signs that they were severely depressed. The one person who took their own life while I was still close to him did so on Thanksgiving Day. I missed the signs, I was very young at the time, but I am older now and know to look for the signs of depression, especially around the holidays. If even just one person reads my article and it helps someone it was worth writing. If that one person passed it on to another, and them to another, and so on, maybe many people can be helped. While it has been well documented that suicide rates do not increase during the holidays, it has been shown that there is an increase directly following the holidays. So perhaps the best present you can give this season is your time and compassion. Once someone gets the help they need for depression, it can be like a new lease on life.