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Posted: Monday, 16 December 2013 6:31AM

Christmas cheer can lead to Holiday Blues

It may be the season to be jolly, but that's not the case for many folks during the holidays.

Truth be told, many people feel lonely, sad, anxious and depressed.

The 'Holiday Blues' are prevalent during this time of year.

It's interesting," says Dr. Amy Dickson, Clinical Psychologist at LSU Health Sciences Center. "When people think of the holidays, they think it's full of cheer and good will. But, for people who are really isolated or suffering from things like depression...they have a lot of difficulty enjoying the holidays."

"They feel like it's a lot of forced cheer and it can make them very despondent."

She says a lot of people think about suicide, feeling very alone and that their life isn't getting any better. And, she says friends and family should keep an eye on those who appear to be depressed.

"We don't want those people to be by themselves," says Dickson. "That's when your mind can run away with itself, to think about all those depressed thoughts. And that puts them at much greater risk for harming themselves or not taking care of themselves."


She says those who have a history of depression and know the holidays are particularly difficult, should try and make some plans to see some people, be active and participatory.

Those suffering from any type of holiday depression or stress can benefit from increased social support during this time of year. Counseling or support groups can also be beneficial.

"If they're around others...people are going to pick up on that and provide them some emotional support," Dickson says.

But, she also warns about getting overwhelmed by the need to buy a lot of gifts or go to every party.

"Whatever your issues are around the holidays, be attentive to those needs. We tend to have a lot more going on during the holidays, so we're not as self-aware and we're not watching ourselves. So we just need to take a step back and keep in check, seeing how we're doing, too. And, then make adjustments...maybe not going to a party if you're feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Or, maybe if you're isolating, forcing yourself to go listen to some Christmas music or walk through City Park and look at the lights. Because it will improve your mood, even if you're not feeling in the best of spirits."

She says it is possible to, not only make it through the Holidays without getting down, but to be happy as well.

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