We have entered the “most wonderful time of the year.” Decorations and lights are on display, Christmas carols are playing, and there is an overall sense of holiday cheer. For many of us, though, the season is overwhelming and the expectations of the holiday season lead to increased anxiety and depression. The challenges of the holiday are often felt more acutely by family caregivers and older adults who are experiencing limited mobility, limited finances and limited energy.
The holidays are a time of reflection that magnifies the loss of loved ones and may trigger a longing for the past. Physical and emotional changes as well as financial constraints impact the ability to celebrate the holidays as you would like. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a mood disorder caused by the reduction of natural sunlight during the winter, can compound feelings of depression. Despite these real challenges there are strategies to beat the holiday blues and get into the holiday spirit.
If you are hosting an older relative for the holidays remember these tips:
Having a mood disorder, experiencing depression during the rest of the year, and a lack of social support are risk factors for depression at holiday time. If you or someone you know is suffering from symptoms of depression – loss of sleep, changes in weight and appetite, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fatigue, thoughts of suicide – it is time to consult a medical or mental-health professional.
For those suffering from seasonal sadness, remember that the season will pass. Try some of the above suggestions and try to live in the moment, appreciating what you do have. An attitude of gratitude reflects the message of the holidays and can go a long way in beating blues.