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Depression; Lifestyle Tips.

Coping with holiday depression

Feelings of depression can strike not only during the winter holidays, but also on any occasion with high social and emotional expectations. Begin by understanding that you are not obligated to feel cheerful or any particular way; accept your feelings so you can deal with them. Understand that one reason for your sadness may have to do with missing people who have died, either recently or even years ago. Avoid alcohol or other substances if they serve as "quick fixes"--they do more harm than good. Don't spend extra money either. Share responsibility for preparing for a social event rather than taking it all on yourself. Make time for yourself to "recharge" and relieve stress. If you're lonely, volunteer to help others.

What to do when depression starts

Think of specific triggers that might be causing or aggravating your depression. Some examples are sleep deprivation, diet deficiencies, seasonal light deprivation, stress, grief due to loss, alcohol abuse, problems in relationships and medications. Change the factors that you can, and bring others to the attention of your health care professional. Take care of yourself with a healthy diet, adequate sleep and moderate exercise. Don't withdraw, but maintain only a reasonable amount of responsibilities. See your health care professional, go to a walk-in center, or call a hotline for the help you need. Let your family and friends help you.

What to do while waiting for your medication to start working

Break large tasks into small ones and set priorities to make your day less frustrating. You may also find that it's easier to do physical tasks (like cleaning) than analytical tasks, and these still accomplish something useful. Choose non-stressful activities that normally make you feel good, like going to a movie, a religious service, or a ballgame. Moderate exercise may help. Consciously turn to more positive thoughts when you find yourself concentrating on the negative. Ask friends and family for support. Take your medication as prescribed and expect your mood to lift gradually, not suddenly. Call your health care provider if you have questions or concerns.

Put the light back in your life

If you have seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or "winter depression," don't use tanning beds as light therapy. The ultraviolet rays they give off may be harmful to your eyes and skin. Instead, try light boxes, wearable visors and even masks specially made as SAD therapy. These light sources are much brighter than ordinary indoor light. Sit about two feet away and read or do whatever you wish for about 30 minutes per day. Mornings are best; don't use the treatment too late in the evening, or you may have trouble sticking to your normal sleeping hours.

If you think your child may have depression

Talk to your child. Pay attention to behavioral changes like crying more often, complaining of feeling sad and empty, discouragement and hopelessness, disrupted sleep, loss of interest in favorite activities, isolation from friends and family. Remember that even a child with good grades can be depressed, if he or she is trying to compensate for low self-esteem by being anxious to please. School-age children may complain of headache, stomachache, or may act irritable or misbehave. Teens may show reckless behavior. Consult with your pediatrician, school guidance counselor or mental health professional and know the warning signs of suicide so you can act swiftly if you see them.

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Keywords: Depression, holidays, medication, child
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Publication:NWHRC Health Center - Depression
Article Type:Disease/Disorder overview
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 12, 2006
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