If having a white Christmas is the dream of many adults and children, many other individuals are experiencing what is known as “blue holidays” due to depression or anxiety caused by a multitude of reasons, from personal and professional to financial.
In some cases, such anxiety or depression may result in that individual taking his or her own life.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s website, suicide continues to be a major public health problem and one that occurs throughout the year, and not just during the holidays.
The CDC stated it’s a myth that suicides occur more frequently during the holiday season than other times of the year. But more than 36,000 Americans take their own lives annually, making suicide the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S.
In addition, the CDC stated more than 374,000 patients are treated in emergency rooms or departments for self-inflicted injuries each year.
In a news release, LaTrina Foster, who has been director of the Fulton County Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities since 2017, said throughout the year, on the average, the county’s six clinics see 3,000 individuals suffering from some form of depression or anxiety.
A person can experience such anxiety or depression, regardless of the time of year, as they reflect on enjoyable activities with friends or relatives that are not with them any longer due to death, divorce, relocation or other factors, she said. However, individuals can still experience the holiday blues.
“People can also experience depression during the holiday season due to over-committing or over-booking themselves to attend holiday events, engagements or activities, which makes them feel overwhelmed,” Foster said.
In addition, depression or the holiday blues, in some cases, can also be linked to financial stress due to unrealistic expectations or plans related to gift-giving, the grief of the loss of loved ones, memories, fatigue, tension, loneliness or isolation, Foster said.
The department is suggesting the following for coping with the holiday blues:
♦ Don’t pretend to be happy, so you should not force yourself to pretend to be happy and don’t force yourself to fit society’s standards when celebrating holidays or special days.
♦ Be realistic about your finances when gift-giving and hosting family parties.
♦ Instead of hosting a party and expecting to provide everything, you could host a potluck meal where guests can bring a dish that can include a white elephant gift exchange where family members, friends and co-workers can exchange inexpensive, but usable gifts.
♦ Refrain from spending too much money by leaving your credit cards at home and sticking to a daily budget.
♦ Don’t isolate yourself but carry out personal acts of kindness for friends, family members or neighbors. They also may need positive reinforcement during this holiday season.
♦ Consider visiting relatives, friends, and seniors who may be facing unwarranted isolation due to health or transportation limitations.
♦ Eat healthier foods and avoid or reduce your alcohol consumption. Alcohol is a depressant that can affect your thoughts, feelings and actions, making you more likely to feel depressed.
Foster gave a word of caution for those experiencing feelings of depression even after the holidays.
“I urge individuals who are experiencing continued depression or sadness to call one of our behavioral health offices for assistance and remember that children can experience depression, too, and we can help all ages,” she said.
Individuals and families can live happier, healthier lives by seeking help.
Foster emphasized that if someone knows a person struggling with stress or sadness, inform that person that help is available.
“Free and low-cost therapy is offered for children and adults living throughout Fulton County,” she said.
The locations of Fulton’s adult behavioral health clinics may be found by visiting www.fultoncountyga.gov.