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How to cope with seasonal depression

Seasonal Depression PKG - Scott Brazda 12-10-2020.JPG
Posted at 8:13 PM, Dec 10, 2020

LAFAYETTE, La. — The year 2020 and the word 'depression' have certainly gone hand in hand: pandemic depression, economic depression, hurricane depression and now, holiday depression.

"Holiday depression is seasonal, anytime from around Halloween to New Year's, those feelings tend to be escalated because of the added stress of the holidays, family issues, financial issues or just unmet expectations about the holidays," said Dr. Amy Cavanaugh, a clinical and medical psychologist.

Unmet expectations are part of it. And one of the keys to handling that, says Cavanaugh, is giving yourself a break. You can't - and shouldn't - do everything.

"And I really wish people would be very gentle with themselves, compassionate with themselves and some days are just not going to feel as good as other days," said Cavanaugh. "And managing your expectations of yourself and other people and of your schedule and really not trying to take on everything of the holidays."

Anxiety and depression during Christmas happens to everyone. And, yes, even our psychologist who got a bit tense while shopping with her daughter.

"And she's like, 'Mom, wants wrong with you?' I said, 'You don't understand; there's so much to do at Christmas!" laughs Cavanaugh. "She said, 'you just buy the presents' and I said, 'well, there's a lot more that goes into it.'"

Cavanaugh offers some tips: exercise is huge, get outside if you can, just to walk. And watch those holiday treats - at least in moderation.

But the biggest keys seem to be understanding it's OK to get down every so often, and don't be reluctant to reach out and ask for help.

"Definitely reach out," said Cavanaugh. "Sometimes the clergy, your priest your pastors, schools, school counselors those people are there to help, too."

With COVID aka the pandemic, and hurricanes, and now the need to be jolly? Cavanaugh says it's OK not to be.

"And to recognize you are going to have feelings of sadness and not to push against that or feel like you should be happy just because it's the holidays," she said.

A couple takeaways from yours truly: realizing you're not the only one going through this. And understanding that if this goes past two weeks, you might want to reach out and get some help.

People are there for you.

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