Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Linda Dano, Actress and Television Personality, Shares her Tips for Managing Depression During the Holidays

By Linda Dano, Emmy-Award Winning Actress and Depression Advocate

(ARA) - The holiday season is supposed to be a time of joy, but for the millions of American’s with depression, this time of year can be difficult. I know personally how stressful it is to face an array of demands, including work, parties, shopping, baking, cleaning, caring for elderly parents or kids on school break, and scores of other chores, in an effort to have a perfect holiday. This season may be especially difficult given America’s anxiety over the current economy. That’s why it is important that people with depression take steps to alleviate added holiday stress in an effort to make their symptoms of depression easier to manage.

Symptoms of depression can include the hallmark emotional signs like sadness, hopelessness, loss of interest in usual activities or irritability, in addition to physical symptoms, which may surface as aches and pains, fatigue or lack of energy, changes in sleep patterns or appetite.

The good news is there are things that you can do to help you stay on track. Take some time to make a list in a journal of the things that might trigger your symptoms this holiday season. Share this list with a loved one so that, together, you can devise an action plan to cope should the need arise.

Just remember, feelings of sadness and loneliness do not automatically “turn off” during the holiday season. Continue working with your physician and your loved ones, and be sure to make time for yourself to get away from the stresses of the holidays.

Also, keep in mind that the holidays can be a good time to give thanks for the positive things in life. Be sure to take a moment during this holiday season to thank your loved ones for all the help they have given you.

Here are some more helpful tips:

* Seek support. Reaching out to friends and family for support can be important. Research suggests an inverse relationship between social support and risk for major depressive disorder. Friends and family can not only be a source of emotional support, but can help out with everyday chores that still need to get done.
* Plan ahead. Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, visiting friends and other activities.
* Learn to say no. Believe it or not, people will understand if you can't do certain projects or activities. If you say yes only to what you really want to do, you'll avoid feeling resentful, bitter and overwhelmed.
* Don't abandon healthy habits. Don't let the holidays become a dietary free-for-all. Continue to get plenty of sleep and schedule time for physical activity.
* Take a breather. Make some time for yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do.
* Seek professional help if you need it. Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious, having some associated physical complaints, and unable to face routine chores. Talk to your doctor or a mental health professional about therapy and available treatment options.

Remember, one key to minimizing the effects of holiday-related stress on depression is knowing the triggers that worsen your symptoms and the steps to manage those situations. Always speak with a doctor if you suspect you or someone close to you may be experiencing depression. By recognizing the signs and symptoms and speaking with a doctor, you can get the help you need.

Have a safe, healthy and happy Holiday season.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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